The Open Door - Towards Accessibility and Inclusion
Practical advice on making our churches more accessible and inclusive
Accessible churches are churches that can be enjoyed by everyone – regular worshippers, people attending events and visitors of all kinds - including those with disabilities or other access needs.
About a fifth of the population have access needs, including people with hearing and visual impairments, wheelchair users, older and less mobile people, young families with pushchairs, etc. This is too large a community for churches to overlook!
New resources now available
It is thus timely that the idea of “Access to Inclusion” has been the subject of collaboration between Newcastle Diocese’s Disability Task Group, Tourism Task Group, and Inspired North East. A consultation paper has been produced, 'The Open Door' self-audit access questionnaire has been developed (see below), and a workshop on the same 'Open Door' theme took place in Newcastle in April 2015 to introduce the questionnaire and the thinking behind it. This is now being piloted in a number of churches.
The Open Door - presentations and information
Resources available to download (click on the highlighted link words):
Other useful links
The Disability+Jesus website features an excellent video of Katie Tupling describing her experience of disability in the church.
Through the Roof seeks to be a catalyst for change on behalf of those affected by disability - including those with mobility impairments, learning disabilities or mental health issues, sight loss and those in the Deaf community - to see all valued equally, fully included, and able to contribute their gifts and skills.
Please look at the materials provided above, download the questionnaire and consider using this to assess your own church. Then use the results of this to prepare your own Action Plan. Please let Bill Rigby - Newcastle Diocese Disability Adviser - know if you are doing this and give us feedback on your experience.
By understanding the needs of people with accessibility needs, making some adjustments to facilities (where feasible), and providing information on accessibility our churches can be made more welcoming and inclusive.