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Questions for Friends of Wheelchair Users to Consider Before Events and Invitations

We ease our way out of a months-long writer's block to bring you a list of questions that I, a wheelchair user, frequently ask before committing to social engagements. They help me get the lay of the land and figure out if an outing might be doable.

The Questions

Do I have a way to get there?

Are there stairs?

Can I navigate? Will it be crowded? Is there more difficult terrain, like grass or gravel?

Are there accessible bathrooms?

If there are none, how long is the event?

Will I have to turn down drinks?

The Explanation

My questions are grouped the way they are because the first set is made up of more obvious logistical matters that might be clear right off to an outside perspective: transportation, inside or outside, et cetera. Most people not in chairs tend to gather that stairs might be an obstacle for someone using wheels.

The second set is really just one question, followed by a series of eventualities, and it is constantly present for me as someone who can really only hope for one bathroom stall out of six to be able to work. As the number of stalls decreases, so does the chance that I will have a restroom that can work with my chair, I've found.

Hopefully, these questions provide some insight on logistical and physical barriers that can come up when planning events. This is just a personal list of broad indicators, and other wheelchair users may have additions, subtractions, or variations. It never hurts to ask what your friends need and do some recon before offering an invitation.

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