Each year at the end of October, trick-or-treaters take to the neighborhood streets to fill their bellies with treats. Halloween is often a time that children look forward to, planning their costumes early, mapping a route around the neighborhood, or having an evening out with their friends in the fall air.
But not every child finds Halloween to be as much fun. Barriers such as stairs to front doors, strobe lighting, or steep driveways make it difficult for kids with disabilities to have the same experience as their friends.
Here are a few considerations to make this Halloween accessible for as many ghouls, goblins and ghosts as possible.
Costumes For All
A hallmark of the holiday is the opportunity to dress up. Expressing creativity through costumes is an opportunity for kids to be someone other than themselves, hang out with their friends, or dress up as their favourite character.
Many companies are creating specific costumes to dress up a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair, and incorporate it into the costume. For example, Disney and Party City provide costumes that work with mobility devices, or have special openings that can assist with other disabilities, for example, if you wear a medical device. Disney released a new Mandalorian costume last year that has the individual dressed as the Mandalorian, and the wheelchair itself becomes a spaceship.
Other costumes include, Cinderella's carriage, superheroes, or an under the sea theme for those kids excited about the new Little Mermaid film adaptation.
Many of these costumes don’t only apply to mobility devices – they can be used on strollers or wagons to ensure the whole family can be a part of the costumed tradition.
Tips for Inclusive Trick-or-Treating
Here are some tips to consider when hanging spiderwebs, carving pumpkins, or decking out your home with all things spooky, to ensure your trick-or-treating setup that is inclusive for all.
Curbside trick or treat station.
Many homes are not accessible. Whether it be a step up to the front door, or a steep driveway, creating a trick-or-treat station curbside, on your front lawn, or on your driveway can ensure more children and their families can visit you this Halloween. This allows for barriers to be removed from the path of travel allowing everyone to participate.
Signal to neighbours that it is an accessible house.
Letting your neighbours know that children can participate barrier-free, or putting out a sign that indicates that your home is accessible for trick-or-treaters is a wonderful option to get the word out. This allows parents of children with disabilities, or parents and caregivers with disabilities to plan their Halloween accordingly and create the most inclusive experience for their family and friends.
Describe or show what you are handing out.
When handing out candy, it is good practice to say out loud and show the trick-or-treaters what treats you have. If a child has hearing loss or vision loss, this can help them know what they are being given or indicate to you a preference if there is a choice to be made.
While Halloween is often known for spooky lighting or loud scary sounds, consider toning down the strobe lighting and loud noises. Children or caregivers may have a sensory disability or epilepsy, among others. These can be triggered by bright flashing lights or loud noises. Consider decorations that allow everyone to enjoy their experience.