Weekend Question: Accessible Parties?

For those who want to socialize in a group atmosphere, parties can be pretty awesome. They can be a good place to meet people, to see a bunch of friends at once, to network, and to have fun. Unfortunately, they can also prove difficult for many people for a huge variety of reasons.

One of the ways in which parties are difficult for me is that they are usually very loud. For some reason a lot of people think they’re only having fun if they’re all yelling at the top of their lungs all at once. I want to participate in the conversations, but I can only tolerate being in a room full of shouting for very limited amounts of time. One of the best things people can do to make a party much more accessible to me is to have a quieter room or to occasionally ask everyone to bring their voices down to half the volume. If everyone is quieter at once we can all still hear each other!

What makes a party more accessible for you? How can hosts, other guests, or event organizers make sure that you can have fun at their parties too?

This question is part of our NEW weekly feature, Weekend Question! This feature will come on Saturday or Sunday each week, usually from Benny, the blog admin.

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Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes is a queer polyamorous transman, curious skeptic, and enthusiastic seeker of knowledge. He's an undergraduate student in his 30's and loves teaching people about alternative sexuality and gender issues.


  1. April 20, 2015 at 9:02 pm —

    You should try to be as antisocial as my boyfriend and I are, Bennie. The parties we’ve gone to were so small that you have no trouble hearing everyone! Actually, the only party we’ve been to since I awoke from my six-week coma was a poetry reading to celebrate the release of our friend’s chapbook. It was held in a small bookstore that wasn’t really handicap-accessible, despite the ADA. It was soon after I came home from the nursing home, so I was still using the wheelchair a lot. Keith was able to get the chair over the stoop and into the tight quarters of the bookstore, fortunately. We’ve also had to skip his company Christmas party because it’s on a yacht, and the ship isn’t handicap accessible. I’m sensing a theme. Actually, we haven’t been exactly broken up about missing that deadly 3-hour tour of the Long Beach Harbor with people we have nothing in common with other than they work with Keith.

    Anyway, I think the key is to go to parties where it’s not so big that they’ll treat you like an inconvenience because of your challenges. If it’s being thrown by friends, they’ll have already accommodated your issues into their plans. If not, it’s probably one of those parties that are so loud you can’t hear each other talking, anyway. But then, I’m not really social enough to be invited to those parties in the first place!

    • April 20, 2015 at 11:37 pm —

      I think you’re right about friends being accommodating when your disability is visible. I definitely make sure to keep in mind my friend Liz’ wheelchair when planning things she’ll be invited to, for example. But I don’t know what people are so good about it with invisible/less obvious needs. I think sensory issues like mine are pretty difficult for people to think of when planning a party.

      Planning a company holiday party for a non-accessible location is crummy. Having to miss out on something over stuff like that is such a bummer.

      I actually think that larger events could have the capacity to do better than smaller ones. I’m thinking about events like large conferences – they often do have the space to accommodate a lot of different needs. I actually think smaller parties can be a lot more limited but it sounds like your experience is different from mine.

      • April 21, 2015 at 8:37 pm —

        My general preference is for more intimate parties, so I’m probably biased. I’ve been “lucky” to develop mobility issues after the ADA, because accessibility was much worse before then. Still, I think, since the company my boyfriend works for doesn’t have any workers with mobility problems, they don’t reserve one of the handicap-accessible ships.They do exist, but the one they reserve isn’t one of them. We always attended the Christmas party before my strokes and coma, but I don’t think allowing Keith and me to attend is a priority, even though so many of his co-workers were pulling for me–and, yes, even praying for me–during my coma. If our friends invited us to a more intimate gathering, they would do whatever necessary to make it easier for me to attend. We were invited to the poetry reading, even though our friend knew about my issues, which were even more severe then. Keith did some research and realized there might be some issues, but decided that we could probably find a way to get around them. But there were many more people attending the reading. So, again, the size of the event favored the larger, able-bodied majority.

  2. April 21, 2015 at 10:03 pm —

    Oh, and I wanted to say that I have the same problem hearing in noisy situations. In my case, it’s because of my ADHD. My brain can’t filter out the extraneous voices to focus on the important ones, like most people can. Just this Sunday at my birthday dinner, I had almost as much trouble hearing the conversation at the table as Keith’s hard-of-hearing mother because the restaurant was so noisy,

  3. April 23, 2015 at 5:52 pm —

    I find parties to be more accessible for me if they are quieter as well! It doesn’t take loudness to have fun! I also find them more physically accessible if there’s as few stairs as possible, as I often use a cane.

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