Approximately 20% of the general population live in the community with some form of disability. Even if we do not live with a recognisable form of disability ourselves there is every chance that people nearby are living with a hearing or vision impairment, with forms of dementia, with brain injury, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, forms of Autism, or a myriad of other forms of physical, intellectual or sensory impairment.
Some people with a disability will be observed moving around their community in a wheel chair, or a gopher, or a seeing eye dog. Others will be viewed as normal because their disability does not produce easily observable signs of disability. Others will not be observed at all because they live much of their lives behind four walls.
Some people living with a disability are able to exist quite independently, whilst others require a battery of community supports, along with the love and practical assistance of carers such as parents or other family members.
And yet, how many of these people find a home in our local church communities? Whilst a few congregations have developed models of inclusive ministry that are welcoming of people with disabilities, many churches contain architectural forms and models of ministry that make participation in congregational life too hard for some.
All of us have a right to choose whether or not to participate in the life of a local church community. However through consideration of issues such as architectual accessibility, and inclusive ministry forms, some living with a disability may find their local congregation a more welcoming place in which to celebrate their faith and spirituality.
The pages listed in the menu on the left contain a variety of disability-related resources from the last decade that can be integrated into the life of your faith community. I trust the resources in this area of the site might assist your faith community on the path toward inclusion.