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Anabaptist Disabilities Network
Accessibility - Another Word for Hospitality
Accessibility may seem a relative newcomer to the issues that ought to concern churches, but we at ADNet invite people of faith to think of accessibility as a new name for the very old practice of hospitality.
Beginning with Genesis, our Bible sees hospitality as a given for God’s people. The book of Ruth and the Good Samaritan parable urge us to expand our definitions of neighbor -- those with whom God calls us to share hospitality. Even though religious activities may be exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), access to church buildings and programs is a crucial first step to offering a hospitable welcome to all who might want to be part of the body of Christ.
Why audit accessibility?
To people who do not live with a disability, the environmental and program barriers that prevent people with disabilities from full participation are often invisible. An accessibility audit or survey offers a way to bring these invisible barriers into full view. Fortunately, excellent survey tools designed especially for churches are available to expand awareness and prepare the way for modifying church facilities and programs for greater hospitality.
Tools for auditing accessibility
The Congregational Accessibility Network offers a series of tools for surveying both perceptions of access among members and a congregation's physical facilities. The site also offers strategies for congregational decision-making process that can bring the intentions of greater hospitality to fruition. CAN was developed as a project of ADNet and became an independent organization in 2011.
Accessibility Audit for Churches by United Methodist Committee on Relief. The sign may say, "Welcome," but the steps may say, "You must be able to walk up stairs to enter." Detailed audit to evaluate facilities, grounds, communications, and practices for unrecognized barriers. Includes links to comparable ADA provisions and manufacturers of suggested products.
Related ADNet Resources
The Congregational Accessibility Network (CAN) was launched in 2007 as a program of ADNet under the supervision of Executive Director Paul Leichty. As part of an organizational restructuring that eliminated the position of Executive Director, as of February 2011 ADNet's board of directors handed over control of CAN to Leichty to continue to develop its possibilities as a tool for diverse faith communities.
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