1. Make your building as thoroughly accessible as possible.
2. Get to know those in your congregation who have disabilities. Don’t forget to include those who have hidden disabilities
like diabetes, mild hearing loss, etc.
3. Ask parishioners with disabilities what they need in order to feel welcome and included. Discern their gifts and find
ways to invite these people to share them in God’s service.
4. Encourage your parishioners to bring in articles about disability concerns. Oftentimes, what appears in print will
involve a moral decision on which the church needs to take a stand. Issues like end of life decision-making, care of severely
disabled children, marriage of developmentally-disabled couples, etc. are among the issues which will make good topics for
discussion groups. If you plan educational programming around these issues, be sure to invite several of your parishioners
with disabilities to participate in the discussion.
5. Set aside one Sunday each year for a celebration called “Access Sunday”. While many denominations choose
a specific date each year, we have been more successful with choosing the Sunday which has lessons dealing with disability
concerns. Jesus’ healing miracles are always good. We have many resources to offer in you decide to celebrate Access
6. Adopt a group home or other residential facility and invite the residents to join you in worship. You may have to provide
rides, but our experience tells us that these people make faithful, enthusiastic additions to your congregation. Plan ahead.
You may want to offer church-school classes or find “buddies” who will help incorporate your new friends into
7. Many inequities still exist for persons with disabilities. For example, more that 70% of all disabled people are unemployed
even though two-thirds of these people want to work and are able to do so. Make one of these justice issues a part of your
outreach programs. The church does not speak out often enough on these justice issues. Helping our largest minority is a good
place to start.
8. Help the children of the parish experience what it is like to have a disability. Blindfold some of them. Have wheelchairs,
cane, walkers, and braces available for others to use. Place cotton in the ears of a third group, and tell others that they
cannot talk and so must find other ways to communicate. Make sure that the space used for this exercise is safe for everyone.
Leave time to listen to what the children learned and how they felt as people with disabilities.
9. Try the above exercise with the adults. At the end, make sure you ask them if they encountered any barriers in the
building or if they felt shunned or uncomfortable as they interacted with one another.
10. Ask those in your
congregation who have a disability to write short articles for your newsletter or web-site about the problems and blessings
of having a disability. Ask them to write a bit about God’s part in their disability.