Securing ADA Accommodations at Large Events

Before I began experiencing symptoms of Crohn’s disease, I really enjoyed going to large gatherings such as concerts, performances, conventions, and sporting events. As someone who has wide musical interests, enjoys comedy and theatre and is an avid hockey fan, these were many of the things that used to fill my time. It brought me great pleasure not just to experience these moments live, but to be in a space with so many others who had appreciation and enthusiasm for the same things.

Life as I knew it was gone

After getting sick, life as I knew it basically stopped. To be honest, a trip to Target or the grocery store required so much planning that I felt anything else would basically be impossible. For years, I watched events on TV, feeling major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and incredible sadness that my IBD had taken that lifestyle away from me.

With the support of my doctor, my therapist and my husband over the last two years, I have slowly been trying to attend some of the events that I had been missing out on. As someone who has always fixated on and feared the “worst case scenario,” this has been incredibly difficult for me mentally; but, it has also been overwhelmingly important and positive for my emotional well being and quality of life.

Overly prepared

For me – a worrier, I have found that being overly prepared is the key to success. First, I have found that personally, I will only attend events where I can buy a ticket for a guaranteed seat, for having to stand brings more unpredictability than I am okay with. Also, I almost always will purchase tickets for a seat on an aisle if available, in order to easily be able to get to and from the bathroom.

Next, I pack a large(r) purse with my necessities – medications, water, snacks, wet wipes, extra underwear, calmoseptine, hand sanitizer, etc. I think it’s important to note that each person’s list of necessities might vary, and this is something I’ve learned over time through trial and error. Before the day of the event, I devise a game plan – how will we be getting to the event, where will our seats be, how close are they to the bathrooms, will there be stairs I need to climb, how long will the event be, will there be food to purchase that I can eat, and so on.

ADA accomodations

In most cases, I have also called or emailed the venue about securing ADA accommodations, or accommodations by the Americans with Disabilities Act. I explain that I have both Crohn’s disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis, and there are some accommodations that can make it much easier for me to attend the event. To be completely honest, I have never had someone on the other end question my illnesses or disabilities, or ask me for documentation – even though I’ve always had it readily available. Also, I have almost always dealt with someone who has been considerate, which has made me so much more likely to continue to utilize this service.

There are some incredibly valuable components of this for someone with IBD. In my experience, ADA accommodations are often able to provide several, if not all of the following:

  • A map of the area, including where bathrooms are located
  • Permission to bypass standing in long lines
  • Use of an elevator or escalator to decrease climbing stairs
  • Permission to bring in your own water bottle or snacks
  • Permission to bring in medication
    • SOME events are able to offer patients a cold space for medication to be stored for short periods of time
  • Permission (if necessary) to be in and out of a room/hall/theatre as needed for restroom access
    • This can be especially helpful for plays, theater events and live tapings of performances

Voicing my concerns

I have also found that if there is something specific I am concerned about with an event or a venue, I just voice my concern and ask if there is a work-around. I have found people to be compassionate and helpful in most situations, and they want me to be able to enjoy the event as much as possible. To be honest, there are in fact some accommodations that event staff or locations are not able to offer, and this does impact my ability to attend certain events. My best recommendation is to inquire beforehand and to do as much research as possible before you visit the venue/attend the event.

If you have not utilized ADA accommodations before and have questions, please feel free to leave them below & I will advise to the best of my abilities.

Note: Here is a very informative guide directly from the National Network of Information, Guidance and Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act:  https://adata.org/publication/temporary-events-guide

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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