We are now well into the season of giving, and those of us who are enjoying the holiday season are in various stages of preparation. Some are already done with their shopping, while others (like your humble author) are hopeless procrastinators, constantly saying we’ll get around to it while Amazon blows up our phones with deals. No matter which category you fall into, it’s also National Safe Toys and Gifts Month – a time to keep in mind the importance of ensuring that the gifts we give are age-appropriate and free of objects that might cause harm to the user. While we’re setting criteria for our gift-giving, if we have people with disabilities on our lists, we should ensure that our gifts (and all aspects of our holiday celebrations) are accessible and inclusive.
What Is Accessibility?
The specifics of accessibility are different depending on the disability. For example, people who use wheelchairs require accessible entrances and ramps in their physical environment, while blind and low-vision people need electronic information that is compatible with screen readers and/or Braille or large print material. Others need dietary accessibility because of food allergies, and others need environments to be quiet and lack stimuli in order to be included. Generally, though, when we talk about accessibility, we are talking about making sure that people with disabilities can get to and use something as easily as non-disabled people can. So, if you have a disabled loved one and are wondering what to get them, that’s a good standard to use. Here are some more specific ideas:
- Is your loved one a reader? If so, a regular print book might not be the best thing for them. Instead, try a large print book or an audiobook.
- Toys with lots of textures, tactile controls and/or sounds are always great choices. Think fidget toys.
- Do your holiday celebrations include playing games? If so, make sure the games are created in an accessible way or you can adapt them to make them accessible.
- Assistive technology is always a good bet! If there’s something your loved one needs to improve their independence, use the holidays as a time to get it. Not sure what to get or where to get it? Reach out to us at the IMAGE Center, and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.
- Last but certainly not least, make sure everything you do during the holidays includes everyone, regardless of their abilities.
We wish you the best as you find the perfect gifts for all of your loved ones. As you plan your holiday celebrations, remember to create inclusive environments for everyone!