How to Make Halloween Accessible to Children Using Wheelchairs


This time of year, I start to see a lot of search queries for “wheelchair Halloween costumes.”

I agree that Halloween should be for everyone. Any cultural holiday or activity should be accessible to all. With that said, I think there’s a lot more to being inclusive about Halloween activities than just making some costumes that include the wheelchair as prop.

I never felt excluded from dressing up. If I wanted to dress as a superhero or whatever, my mom could have just gotten me the same costume as any other kid, which is what I preferred anyway.  Some people do want to have a costume that includes the wheelchair, and that’s about personal preference. I don’t see it as an inclusion/exclusion issue.

There’s no reason a wheelchair would prevent someone from dressing up if they wanted to. The wheelchair just happens to provide an opportunity for more creative/cooler costumes.

There is an inclusion issue related to Halloween though, and it has to do with accessibility of activities like trick-or-treating or haunted houses (or party games in general.)

When I was growing up, we lived in neighborhoods where most homes were apartment buildings. There were no elevators, so the best I could do was knock at the doors on the first floor and then wait downstairs while my siblings and other kids hit the upper floors. I think I only did that for one or two years before I decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle because I didn’t have any fun sitting downstairs by myself all night.

Denise has a post about visitible homes here. Most folks are not going to be able to redesign their homes to make them more accessible, so here are my suggestions.

  • Set up a candy stand or booth in your yard where kids can stop rather than having to climb the stairs or go up on your porch. Have adults in costume take turns handing out candy this way.
  • Set up your yard as an outdoor haunted house or maze. Use a tarp and offer warm drinks in case of bad weather.
  • Hold a party where everyone brings a bag of candy rather than a trick-or-treating event. Let the kids pick which candies they want or let them make up their own favor bags as a party activity.

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