Steps to Accessibility - Episcopal Diocese of San Diego Steps to Accessibility - Episcopal Diocese of San Diego

Steps to Accessibility


To learn about disabilities:

  1. Develop a section of resources on disability concerns in your church library.
  2. Look for opportunities to learn about disabilities and disability issues in your community.
  3. Visit accessible churches in your area.
  4. Invite outside speakers to talk about the issues and needs of people with disabilities
  5. Explore in sermons and discussions groups the difference between curing and healing.
  6. Set aside a bulletin board to display information and materials related to your accessibility project.

For those who are blind or have vision limitations

  1. Provide the bulletin with complete service in large print.
  2. Purchase large-print copies of the Hymnal and Book of Common Prayer.
  3. Use the lectionary from the website in large print.
  4. Use a font without serifs (Arial) for all printed materials.
  5. Apply brightly colored, textured strips at the tops of stairs to indicate that stairs are being approached. This helps people with limited vision and anyone carrying something that blocks his or her vision.
  6. Survey church lighting to be sure wattage is high enough and that placement of fixtures ensures maximum visibility.
  7. If there is the potential for need, install signs in braille or raised letters.
  8. Allow front row seating for people who do not see well.

For those who are hard of hearing or late deafened:

  1. Allow front row seating for congregants who are hard of hearing.
  2. Discourage delivery of the sermon from the center aisle; a moving speaker is hard to hear.
  3. Survey your microphone and sound system to make sure it meets the needs of those with hearing loss.
  4. Include people with hearing loss in the planning and purchase of a sound system with assistive listening system.
  5. Borrow one of the listening systems that the diocese can loan to you. Contact Hannah Wilder.
  6. Set up a test demonstration of the system for everyone to try out. Hearing loss is stigmatized and those who could benefit from help are often hesitant to ask for it. You can announce that your church has been asked to test equipment and how it sounds in different parts of the nave.
  7. Install a light-cued fire alarm, selecting one entirely safe; some light frequencies can trigger seizures in people who may be prone to them.

To ensure wheelchair accessibility in your church and provide for mobility limitations:

  1. Reduce pews to make space for people in wheelchairs to sit with their families instead of in segregated sections.
  2. Think about converting two side-by-side bathrooms into one accessible unisex restroom.
  3. Provide a paper cup dispenser near your water fountain.
  4. Install long-handled door hardware.
  5. Provide a seat riser for the commode.
  6. Hold all activities in areas that are accessible to everyone. Consider moving the coffee hour to the back of the church.
  7. Involve people with disabilities in all planning for architectural modification.

To recognize medical and environmental disabilities:

  1. Educate yourselves about environmentally induced illnesses.
  2. Suggest that your congregants limit the quantity of perfume, hair spray and after-shave lotion they use. Increasing numbers of people allergic to scent.
  3. Designate your church and surrounding grounds as smoke-free areas.
  4. Learn about the needs of people with invisible medical disabilities such as diabetes, asthma, etc.

For shut-ins and those who are unable to come to church on their own:

  1. Take altar flowers and service bulletins to people who are sick or shut in.
  2. Consider recording the sermon or the whole service for people who are homebound.
  3. Provide regular transportation for congregants unable to come otherwise.
  4. Maintain regular communication with people who are homebound so that they may feel part of the community.
  5. Develop a ministry to match people who are willing to drive with those who need the help.
  6. Encourage intergenerational one-on-one relationships.
  7. Consult local nursing homes to ascertain whether your congregation might establish a ministry to and with their residents.
  8. Survey your neighborhood for ways to help people who are disabled, elderly or homebound.

To promote better understanding of people with disabilities:

  1. Develop a Christian education day in which participants explore life as a person with a disability – wheelchairs, canes, crutches, blindfolds, special eye coverings that simulate vision disorders and ear plugs to cut out sound.
  2. Watch the video, “The Ten Commandments of Communicating with People with Disabilities,” and host viewings for your congregation. Discuss afterward.
  3. Plan an adult education program to discuss non-architectural barriers to inclusiveness.
  4. Explore ways of including members with disabilities in all aspects of church life.
  5. Seek ways of working with other denominations in your community on projects related to disability access and ministry.