Are your services accessible to those with disabilities?
As a church, hopefully it goes without saying, that we are all inclusive, but sometimes we overlook the little things that we can do to help somebody with a disability.
When we hear the word disability we automatically think of a wheelchair, but as many of us know, it means much more than this.
1 in 7 of us in the UK are disabled – 1 in 4 of us are affected by disability in some way.
We need to consider people with learning difficulties, with mental health issues, with autism and with other hidden disabilities. Much of it is easy to accommodate.
Things every church needs to do:
- Find yourself a good loop system – there are 2.5 million people with hearing impairment in the UK and many of them want to come to church! The profoundly deaf in many cases need to be able to lip read so should be sat near the front of the church. (It seems quite obvious once you have been told this fact, but beards also inhibit deaf people from lip reading, so it is the duty of all our male and female vicars to keep their beards trimmed!)
- Provide a large print (16 pt) alternative to hymn books, bibles and church newsletters. For blind members of the congregation hymn books in braile can be ordered from www.rniblibrary.com
- Agree a strategy for how a wheelchair user will come in and join in with the service. (They don’t want to be parked somewhere by themselves.) Binham Church, for example, has altered the slope of its approaching path to accommodate wheelchairs. If you already have a disability plan, is it up-to-date?
- Get trained. Order the book: ‘Making your church accessible to disabled people and their families’ (£8) from www.brfonline.org.uk/9780857461575
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