Prepping for a Night Out

Declan Groeger
Written by
Declan Groeger

When you think of a life with multiple sclerosis, spontaneity is not a word that is often top of mind. Because of that, it is important to always plan ahead when it comes to outings and trips to avoid both complications and disappointment. When it comes to planning an outing, usually the onus for preparation will fall on others, and I hope that this post will be of some assistance. Although different outings require different accessibility functions, there are some common requirements. The most important thing to do before making any plans, is deciding where you want to go and what you realistically expect from it.

The first consideration for planning an outing is figuring out how to get there. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Public transport – is it practical? Is there a pick-up point near your home and near your venue of choice?
  • Taxi – Is an accessible vehicle available at the required times?
  • Own transport – is parking readily available at, or near, the venue?
  • After figuring out how to get to the venue, it is important to think about how you will physically get into it.
  • Is the entrance accessed by steps or a ramp? If the venue is on an upper floor is an elevator available?

Don’t forget about circulation space!

  • Is there enough room to get from the door to the end point? Is there enough space to get to the toilets and back without feeling uncomfortable? Are the toilets accessible and functional? I have visited places where it was impossible to close the WC door with my wheelchair inside.
  • In the case of bars and restaurants, is there enough circulation space between tables to allow easy movement without disrupting others? I appreciate that venues must turn a profit but overcrowding is uncomfortable for everybody but particularly for those with a disability. When booking it is a good idea to make your requirements know. This comes down to allocating sufficient circulation space around your table for staff and other users.

There can be great difference between accessible venues and a location where some proprietors have obviously made unwarranted claims of accessibility. It is devastating to find, often too late, that the venue is inaccessible. I would recommend an internet appraisal of the proposed venue in the first instance including its own website but also looking at recent reviews if they are available. It would be an enormous advantage if someone, aware of your requirements, could actually visit before you do. The degree of accessibility required will vary with each individual, but in my own case I need accessibility for a manual wheelchair. I remember staying in a hotel and my wheelchair could get into the bedroom but not into the bathroom. So before you get somewhere, it is important to consider whether or not the venue is appropriately ramped or if there are steps at the entrance.

Planning an outing shouldn’t be an overwhelming experience, but it is necessary to always think ahead of your requirements, and the requirements of those around you.

These are all parts of the jigsaw and if any individual piece is missing the puzzle cannot be completed.

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