Day 22. Living with a Disability
Are your Christmas plans accessible to all?
You may not have considered that your Christmas is not accessible to all, but with 22 people in every 100 living with a disability, you could be excluding someone you love from spending time with you this Christmas.
42% of Brits head out for a boxing day walk. It has become a tradition for many families, and an essential part to the Christmas celebrations. But, what if you weren’t able to access the route safely, or at all?
Many of us may have never considered that not all outdoor spaces, routes and areas are accessible. For today’s advent door, we are highlighting the work of Open Country, a Yorkshire charity with over 30 years experience in working alongside people with disabilities to help them access and enjoy the countryside.
Open Country have 300 disabled members, 130 volunteers, 16 weekly outdoor activities, and 32 years of experience. They work to improve access to the countryside in North Yorkshire for individuals with disabilities though a variety of outdoor activities, alongside the provision of information, training and advice for all.
Could you or someone you know benefit from Open Country? Find out more about what they do:
Care in the Countryside – a group to enable those who care for members of their family at home to enjoy trips out to places they otherwise might struggle to access
Companion Cycling – with a range of bikes available including tandems, solo bikes, adult tricycles and a duet bike for wheelchair users or anyone with limited mobility.
Trailblazer & Nature Force Groups – these groups undertake conservation work and footpath repairs. There are jobs for all abilities.
Nature & Natterers – a mental health group that runs in partnership with North Yorkshire Country Council Health & Adult Services.
So, while you sit around your dinner table planning your boxing day walk, make sure you consider accessibility. Not every disability is visible, and with 22% of people in the UK living with one, the chances are someone in your circle will be too.
An Inclusive Christmas
In addition to the good old boxing day walk, how else can you make sure your Christmas is inclusive?
Make sure all your gatherings are accessible. If you are hosting a Christmas party, check out the disability access for the venue options. Make sure there are always quiet spaces for those with sensory disorders or hearing impairments. Check if there is audio description options for any verbal events you are attending (e.g. the theatre). If you are still not sure, check out these Think, Ask and Include tips by Sense: Five top tips to make your community more inclusive – Sense
Learn some festive sign language. Over 150,000 people in the UK use British Sign Language – are you able to wish them a Happy Christmas?
Plan other accessible activities. Disability Living have compiled a list of the best accessible Christmas activities in the UK: What Are the Best Accessible Christmas Activities in the UK? – Disabled Living
Make sure there is space to move. Wherever you go, consider crowds. This includes those in big spaces, or indoors. For wheelchair users while somewhere might be ‘accessible’ getting around in a large crowd can be difficult and uncomfortable. For those with sensory disorders or anxiety, large crowds can be extremely difficult, consider this when you plan your Christmas.
If you or someone you know needs help with a disability, there are resources available:
The Hut York: a members-led charity, bringing creativity and purpose to the lives of adults with their mental health journeys, and/or learning disabilities. Supporting individuals, both long and short term. Activities : The Hut (thehutyork.co.uk)
Mencap: Changing the world for everyone with a learning disability. Access Learning Disability Advice and Support | Mencap
RBLI: a national veterans charity supporting the Armed Forces, people with disabilities and people who are unemployed. Support: Get Support | Royal British Legion Industries (rbli.co.uk)
Mind learning disability support: Learning disability support – Mind
York Carers Centre: Free support for unpaid carers (yorkcarerscentre.co.uk)
Whitby Disability Action Group: Whitby, Scarborough and Ryedale DAG (whitbydag.org.uk)
Disability Action Yorkshire: Finding solutions for disabled people whatever their aspirations. I Am Disabled | Disability Action Yorkshire or I Support Someone Who Is Disabled | Disability Action Yorkshire
Scope: Equality for disabled people. Advice and support | Disability charity Scope UK
Henshaws: Sight loss and disabilities craft centre and school. How We Can Help – Henshaws
Avenues: a specialist provider of support services for people with autism, learning disability and acquired brain injury. Our support – Avenues Group
AbilityNet: Services for Charities and Disabled People. AbilityNet Services for Charities and Disabled People | AbilityNet
Beyond Autism: Our services – BeyondAutism
Sense: For people with complex disabilities. Support in your area – Sense
Motability: set up to provide disabled people with safe, reliable and affordable cars. Motability Scheme | Disability Rights UK
Find a charity for your needs here: Charities that help disabled adults & children | List of charities that support disabled people (charitychoice.co.uk)