Resources for Accessibility and Awareness
New Inclusion Handbook: Inclusion Handbook: Everybody Belongs Everybody Serves. This handbook emphasizes the importance of developing relationships and encouraging everyone in your congregation to use their gifts for God’s glory, and gives church leadership the tools to do that. Download free or order print copies from Faith Alive Christian Resources.
Guidelines for Church Accessibility
United States Access Board website focuses on accessible design including the Americans with Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines.
Here's a one-page newsletter insert or poster to hang to give people simple, practical ideas for inclusion: 30 Things You Can Do to Be Hospitable to People with Disabilities (pdf).
Suggestions for making print and electronic communications more accessible. This list, written by Dr. John Frank, a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, gives practical ways that churches can make their communication more accessible to people with visual impairments. This list of tips for optimum readability condenses Dr. Frank's suggestions into a brief paragraphs that can be used in newsletters and bulletins.
Gaining Understanding of the Issues
In some ways, disabled and nondisabled people live in two separate worlds. For churches to begin ministry with people with disabilities, they need to become aware of and to understand the needs and challenges of fellow members who live with disability. A disability awareness worship service can be helpful starting point. An excellent follow up to such a service (or a "stand-alone") would be a panel discussion featuring people with disabilities and caregivers. Panel participants can be prepared using this panel resource sheet.
Including people with disabilities in the church's life and ministry begins with accessibility. Barriers to accessibility include physical barriers, communication barriers, and attitudinal barriers. Barriers must come down and bridges built so that a church can display real warmth and hospitality to all who want to become part of its fellowship. An accessibility audit guide helps determine barriers and bridges to hospitality toward people with disabilities.
Taking a Stand as a Church
Disability Concerns has developed a Church Policy on Disabilities. We encourage church councils to wrestle with the issues presented in the church policy, to adopt it, to publicize it to the congregation, then to exercise leadership in implementing it.
For churches that want to understand better our commitment as a denomination to accessibility, we highly recommend study of the the report to Synod 1993, "Toward Full Compliance with the Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Christian Reformed Church in North America." In June 1993, the CRC Synod "heartily recommend[ed] full compliance with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act . . . and its accompanying regulations in all portions of the CRC located in the US and Canada." (Note: the present form of this document is a scanned PDF file. If this presents an accessibility problem, please let us know how we can accommodate you at email@example.com.)
Recommended Books and Videos
The better we understand one another, the better we can offer hospitality and recognize the gifts God has given to others. To develop better understanding of the issues involved with disability, Disability Concerns recommends these books and video resources.
The Banner online and on tape
Published monthly by the Christian Reformed Church in North America, The Banner magazine shows how the Christian faith in its Reformed expression makes sense for today's world. It is available online at www.thebanner.org or on tape by calling 800.333.8300 or 616.224.0728.
Toward Full Compliance with the Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act in the Christian Reformed Church in North America
The 1993 report adopted by the Christian Reformed Church synod. | 30 pages | Download (pdf graphic).
Toward Full Compliance . . . is the report of a Christian Reformed synodical agency study committee. It recommends that the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act be adopted as the denominational policy on access for people with disabilities. The recommendations of this report were adopted by the 1993 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. This report contains the historical, biblical and theological foundations for its recommendation, an extensive analysis of the ADA itself, and detailed guidelines for applying its provisions to denominational life.
We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to call Mark Stephenson at 616.224.0801, toll free at 888.463.0272, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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