Dating and relationships are difficult. Add a disability to the mix, and it increases the difficulty 1000x. Different disabilities have different limitations, so not everyone can do the traditional “dinner and a movie” thing. If your date uses a feeding tube, for example, dinner isn’t something they might be doing (some people with feeding tubes DO still eat, though). So what are some things the two of you can do that are more accessible? This article is a great starting place for accessible date ideas, but it’s important to think about the limitations of said disability when planning the date.
Putting my normal caveat here that, because my experience with disability is predominantly of a physical nature, most of these ideas come from that angle. Feel free to drop your ideas in the comments!
Visit a Museum
Are you looking for an excuse to go to your town’s “History of the Toothbrush Museum?” Museums are quiet, big, and have a lot of conversation starters. Museums are (usually) wide open, so it’s easy for wheelchairs to get around, and the quiet environment is good for people who get overwhelmed with a lot of noise. Hopefully this goes without saying, but people with visual disabilities probably wouldn’t enjoy this.
Explore a (Used) Book Store
You can tell a lot about someone by what they like to read. Find a local book store and show each other your favorite books, brows sections you wouldn’t normally, or read corny joke books together. Used book stores can be extra fun, because who knows what treasures you might find? If the date goes well, I highly recommend buying each other your favorite books, and discussing them on your second date!
Wander Around a Nature Center
If it’s a nice day outside, walking (or cruising, if you’re like me and use a wheelchair) around a park or an arboretum is a great way to talk and get to know each other. In arboretums and most parks, there are walking trails that allow wheelchairs to traverse smoothly and safely. Most nature centers have signs in front of different plants, so you’ve got lots to talk about. There’s also lots of benches and picnic tables to sit at and chat, or people watch.
If you do want to go the dinner rout, I suggest finding a place that has a trivia night. The questions can spark conversations that can lead to second date ideas. (“You’ve never seen that movie? Okay, we need to fix this.”) You don’t have to be good at trivia to have a good time. Sometimes being wrong can create inside jokes and keep the conversation rolling.
Take a “Walking” Tour of Your Town
Even if you’ve lived in the same place your whole life, how much do you really know about your town? You’d be surprised! Many towns and cities, even smaller ones, have walking tours. Guess what? Wheelchairs and scooters are welcome too; you don’t have to walk! Local tours are fun, and sometimes you learn about a new restaurant or shop you never knew about before. You might even get free samples! One big thing here is to call ahead of time and ask about accessibility. This is especially true for older areas: There might be places with steps and no ramp, making the tour inaccessible.
Go to the Zoo
I love the zoo. Getting to see animals from all over the world, and forgetting and re-realizing how big an elephant actually is? Fantastic. The paths are wide and easy to navigate with my wheelchair, and ther are plenty of places to sit and talk if you need a break. There are also lots of shows and other interactive activities to do. If your zoo has a bird-feeding area, I highly recommend it.
Take a Class
I’m not saying sign up for a college psychology course together, though if that’s your guys’ jam, go for it. What I’m suggesting is more along the lines of a one-time class like the ones where you come away with a painted bowl or canvas. It may take some thinking, but these classes can be modified for different disabilities. Perhaps a smaller canvas. Or maybe the two of you work on the same piece together, where the person with a disability maybe gets to pick colors or how many petals to put on that flower. Again, calling ahead is key. Chances are, the instructor has had to adapt their class before, so they might have ideas already.
Local Theater Production
I don’t know about your town, but mine always has some concert or play happening. Sometimes it’s outside in the park, or sometimes it’s inside in a small theater. 100% of the time it is a good time. It may not be the best production or the biggest musical group, but that’s okay. The important thing is your date, and that the two of you are having fun. Be sure to call ahead to ask about accessible seating, especially if the show is indoors. Outside performances usually have better accessible seating, but not always.
These are only a few ideas to get you started when thinking about date ideas. When planning your accessible date, the most important thing is that the two of you have fun, and the details of the date should facilitate that. Open communication when planning can be important, because getting to the location only to find out it’s not accessible is the worst and can be really embarrassing for all parties involved. While dinner and a movie are great, it’s not always the best choice for people with disabilities for one reason or another. What are some ideas for accessible dates you have? Let us know in the comments below!