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Faith-based Training on Attitudes, Assistive Technology and Accessibility. Marilyn Hammond, Ph.D. Sachin Pavithran, M.S. Learning Objectives. Participants will gain a better understanding of: What the barriers are How churches can be more welcoming Ways AT can increase access for all

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faith based training on attitudes assistive technology and accessibility

Faith-based Training onAttitudes, Assistive Technology and Accessibility

Marilyn Hammond, Ph.D.

Sachin Pavithran, M.S.

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Participants will gain a better understanding of:
    • What the barriers are
    • How churches can be more welcoming
    • Ways AT can increase access for all
    • Ideas for developing and implementing training
    • Where to find relevant resources
  • Anything else?
the problem
The problem…
  • The National Organization on Disability found that both 65% of people with and without disabilities state their religious faith is important in their lives.
  • Only 47% of people with disabilities attend church at least once a month.
  • Why do you think that is?
  • The Friendship Ministries reports that people with mental illness, autism, and environmental, visual, physical, hearing, and cognitive disabilities run into barriers at church.
  • There are architectural, communication and attitudinal barriers.
statements from faith based leaders
Statements from Faith-based leaders:
  • Outside the door of every congregation, there are those who cannot enter, or once in, do not feel welcome.
  • Through your outreach, you will be fulfilling God’s mandate to make the House of God fully inclusive for ALL people of God!(Reverend Harold H. Wilke, Founder the Healing Community).
statements from faith based leaders1
Statements from Faith-based leaders:
  • The house of worship represents one place where the barriers fall and we all stand equal before God(Rabbi Harold Kushner, NOD, 2001).
  • Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we. (United Church of Christ).
  • Allah does not judge according to your bodies and appearances, but He scans your hearts and looks into your deeds.(Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam).
statements from faith based leaders2
Statements from Faith-based Leaders:
  • When we think of persons with disabilities in relation to ministries, we tend automatically to think of doing something for them. We do not reflect that they can do something for us and with us…they have the same duty as all members of the community to do the Lord’s work in the world, according to their God given talents and capacities.(Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities, no. 17, NOD, 2001).
statements from faith based leaders3
Statements from Faith-based leaders:
  • "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is working to provide easier access to its buildings. . . and seeking more creative ways of providing religious training for those with physical, mental and emotional impairments.
  • But there is an even greater need to reduce the barriers imposed by a lack of understanding and acceptance of those who have disabilities.
  • Capital Area Disabilities Ministries found many houses of worship mistakenly assume that becoming more accessible will be a financial drain.
  • Even if they are willing, churches often believe that once they raise the money and address architectural barriers, the job is finished (Salmon, 2007).
  • Do you think that is true?
more than ramps
More than ramps…
  • Becoming an accessible church means much more than simply installing an entrance ramp, it involves design choices so anyone can access the platform and classrooms. It includes sound systems, interpreters, and Bibles, hymnals, prayer books and bulletins available in alternative formats including large print, Braille and electronic.
  • It also means a welcoming attitude and inclusion in all services and activities.
barriers exist if
Barriers exist if:
  • I am viewed with pity or a superhero, not a person with potential.
  • You believe my lack of faith is why my disability is not healed.
  • You suspect my disability may be a punishment for sin(NOD, 2001).
  • You think that my child’s behavior is caused by bad parenting.
  • My child is disruptive and I get disapproving looks.
  • No one invites my children to parties or activities.
the project
The project…
  • A statewide training project was developed to:
    • Positively change attitudes and relationships;
    • Increase knowledge of assistive technology and accessibility;
    • Improve interaction and communication;
    • Identify and resolve barriers; and
    • Increase knowledge of resources;
    • Leading to greater inclusion in houses of worship for children and adults with disabilities.
project objectives participants will increase their understanding of
Project Objectives - Participants will increase their understanding of:
  • Creating a more welcoming and inclusive atmosphere,
  • Providing physical access,
  • Providing programmatic, auditory and visual access,
  • Communicating appropriately and effectively,
  • Identifying and reaching out to people with disabilities,
  • Connecting with local, state and national resources.
statewide training for all denominations
Statewide training for all denominations
  • Two hour interactive training at ten locations across the state
  • Four agencies representing State AT program and disability organizations
  • People with disabilities provide the training
  • Demonstration of vision and hearing technologies
  • Website with technology, disability and faith information and links
some common scenarios
Some common scenarios
  • Barrier:
    • Access to the podium
  • Possible Solutions:
    • Portable microphones
    • Portable or permanent ramps
    • Universal design
      • Raised without stairs
      • Separate entrance to the stand
      • Adjustable podium height
we all need equal access
We all need equal access
  • “We’re all equal in God’s eyes. And we all need access at the same level. In our minds that has always meant making worship spaces available to all, both in where the people sit and where the clergy leads. “It’s a given that we design in a way that welcomes people. The relationship starts in the parking lot, the travel to the building, and the power assisted doors…and continues into the reception and worship spaces. ” He advises making a master plan that identifies everything needed to meet all the needs in the congregation. Robert Nickola, Architect
some common scenarios1
Some common scenarios
  • Barrier
    • Access to speech/music for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
  • Possible Solutions
    • Options for people who are Deaf:
      • Interpreters – Use certified interpreters whenever possible. Without funding, can use students who are training to be certified, family members, volunteers
    • Some of the options for people who are hard of hearing:
      • FM Systems
      • Display captioning and lyrics on screen
      • Infrared
      • Induction Loop
      • Pocket Talker
some common scenarios2
Some common scenarios
  • Barrier
    • Access to materials for people who are blind or have low vision
  • Possible Solutions
    • Options for people who are blind:
      • Electronic format,
      • Braille
      • Audio
    • Some of the options for people with low vision:
      • Large print
      • Electronic
      • Audio
other scenarios
Other scenarios?
  • What challenges have people with disabilities faced when participating in faith communities in your area?
  • What has worked or not worked?
fostering inclusion
Fostering Inclusion
  • Children and adults with disabilities should be included in all church and social activities.
  • Is this happening?
  • What can be done to foster inclusion?
friendship and inclusion is critical
Friendship and inclusion is critical
  • Ask parents what they hope for
  • Don’t allow teasing or insults for any reason
  • Help teachers not to be frightened. Ask parents for rules and consequences. Use positive reinforcement and ignore negative behaviors, unless it is aggression or flight
  • Be creative and try new ideas with parent’s permission
  • Seek inspiration, novel ideas often come from pondering, prayer and reflection
accessible checklist
Accessible Checklist
  • Planning and Policies
  • _____ Our congregation has a disability concerns planning committee whose members include people with disabilities. It advises and guides the congregation’s accessibility efforts.
  • _____ Our staff can give driving directions and information about accessible public transportation.
  • _____ All registration forms for church-sponsored events are available in larger print and non-print formats, list a contact person and have space for people to indicate their accessibility needs.
  • _____ Service animals or guide dogs are permitted within the congregation and in the sanctuary space.
  • _____ Leadership roles are offered to people with disabilities, and needed accommodations are made to make this possible and comfortable.
accessibility checklist
Accessibility Checklist
  • Parking
  • _____ Accessible parking spaces, at least 96 inches wide, are provided at a ratio of 1:25 (one accessible space for every 25 total spaces) and are located near an accessible entrance. A freestanding metal sign showing the international accessibility symbol identifies each of these accessible spaces.
  • _____ Van parking spaces, at least 132 inches wide, are provided at a ratio of 1:6 (one van space for every six total accessible
  • spaces). Signs identifying van parking spaces contain the designation “van accessible.”
  • _____ All of our accessible parking spaces are paved.
  • _____ For loading and unloading, each accessible parking space has a clearly marked adjacent access aisle, which is at least
  • 60 inches wide for cars and 96 inches wide for vans. _____ Our staff and congregants know that they must not park in accessible parking spaces.
accessibility checklist1
Accessibility Checklist
  • Passenger Loading Zone
  • _____ A passenger loading zone is provided where cars and vans can pull up to the building’s main accessible entrance to load and unload passengers. Our loading area is at least 60 inches wide and 240 inches (20 feet) long.
  • _____ If our loading area is sheltered from the weather by a roof/canopy, there is at least 114 inches (9.5 ft.) of vertical clearance.
  • _____ The loading zone’s surface is level and even.
  • Curb Cuts (also known as “curb ramps”)
  • _____ All sidewalks on and surrounding the campus have good curb cuts.
  • _____ Curb cuts are provided whenever it is necessary to connect the access lane and accessible route.
  • _____ Sides of curb cuts: where provided, curb cut flares are not steeper than 1:10 (one foot rise in 10 feet).
  • _____ Curb cuts are a minimum of 36 inches wide, exclusive of flared sides. _____ Landings are provided at the top of the curb cuts. The clear length of the landing is 36 inches, minimum.
  • _____ Slopes are not steeper than 1:20 (one foot rise in 20 feet).
accessibility checklist2
Accessibility Checklist
  • Ramps
  • _____ Where there are steps or a change in grade level, and platform lifts or elevators are not appropriate, a ramp has been provided.
  • _____ Ramps are as flat as possible (preferred slope is 1:20); steepest permissible slope is 1:12, and have a clear width between handrails of at least 36 inches.
  • Entrances
  • _____ There is at least one accessible door at each accessible entrance to the building, and to the worship, fellowship, education and pastoral care areas.
  • _____ All doors are at least 32 inches wide (preferably 36 inches), thresholds no higher than ½ inch wide with beveled edges. All doors have 12-16 inch kick plates so people in wheelchairs can push them open. Door handles are large, easy to grasp (e.g., lever handles). Doors are lightweight and easy to open (less than 6 pounds of pressure), or there are automatic door openers.
  • Accessible Route _____ All of our accessible “elements” are connected by an accessible route, so that our accessible parking spaces, our loading zone, streets and sidewalks and accessible entrance(s) to the building are all accessible to one another.
  • _____ Our accessible route does not cross traffic or a driveway.
  • Corridors
  • _____ Each corridor is at least 36 inches wide. _____ Corridors are equipped with handrails on at least one wall.
accessibility checklist3
Accessibility Checklist
  • Restrooms
  • _____ There is at least one accessible restroom (can be unisex), clearly marked with the international accessibility symbol.
  • _____ Our accessible restroom has at least a 60-inch wide turning radius.
  • _____ All faucet controls, door and stall handles are lever type, and hot water and drain pipes are insulated. All dispensers and hand dryers are 40 inches or less above the floor. The fronts of sinks are 34 inches maximum above the floor. There is a 27-inch clear knee space above the floor, under the sink, to accommodate wheelchair users.
  • _____ The toilet stall is equipped with grab bars. Toilet seat height is 17 inches minimum and 19 inches maximum, measured to the top of the seat. There is a 36-inch wide door (minimum 42 inches). 3
accessibility checklist4
Accessibility Checklist
  • Communication
  • _____ Sign language interpreters are available on request, with notice. Staff knows how to contact them.
  • _____ Printed copies of the sermon are available for people who have hearing difficulty.
  • _____ The sanctuary has good acoustics and an amplifying sound system.
  • _____ The sanctuary has an assistive listening system (FM, audio-loop, or infra-red) and ushers are trained to give out headsets when asked.
  • _____ Worship materials are available in Braille, electronic format or on tape.
  • _____ Large print versions of the bulletin and worship materials are available.
  • _____ The sanctuary or other worship area is well lit.
  • Telephones
  • _____ If telephones are available for public use, at least one telephone is accessible.
  • _____ At least one telephone is equipped with a volume control.
  • _____ Our staff knows how to communicate with a caller using a relay operator.
accessibility checklist5
Accessibility Checklist
  • Worship Area
  • _____ The choir area is accessible.
  • _____ All aisles in the sanctuary, including the side aisles, are at least 36 inches wide. All aisles and spaces are at least 60 inches wide.
  • _____ There is an appropriate number or wheelchair accessible spaces dispersed throughout the sanctuary or worship area. Either several chairs have been removed from a row, or selected pews have been shortened (“pew cuts”). Seating next to wheelchair space is marked with a sign, “Reserved-accessible companion seating.
  • _____ If there are steps to the chancel, handrails are provided.
  • _____ The worship leader invites people to rise “in body or in spirit.”
  • _____ There is a designated fragrance-free seating area in a well-ventilated part of the sanctuary or other space.
accessibility checklist6
Accessibility Checklist
  • Attitudes
  • _____ Staff, volunteers and congregational members have all been trained in disability etiquette so that they are comfortable in their relationships with visitors and members who have disabilities.
  • _____ Sign language classes are conducted to help members of the congregation learn to communicate with persons who are deaf.
  • _____ Speakers from the community, curricula, awareness films and videos are used to help raise disability awareness, dispel myths and eliminate stereotypes about disabilities, etc.
  • _____ Our church has started a mini-library, with books for adults and children, on inclusion of persons with disabilities, as well as worship materials in alternative formats.
  • _____ Our church school staff knows about and has obtained some of the many interfaith free and inexpensive disability awareness books, coloring books, etc., designed to use in inclusive classes by children with and without disabilities.
  • _____ Access Sunday is observed each year. (
lessons learned
Lessons learned
  • Find a neutral location for all denominations.
  • Can be a challenge to get leaders to attend as they often feel overwhelmed with other issues.
  • Advertise through all churches, faith newsletters, parent groups, disability organizations. Personal contact with leaders can make a difference.
  • People with disabilities and technology users as trainers
  • Provide local and national resources
ways to be more inclusive and welcoming
Ways to be more inclusive and welcoming
  • Use people first language in sermons, bulletins, and newsletters
  • Use access symbols in announcements, advertisements and signage
  • State, all are welcome and provide a phone number to provide any needed accommodations in all event announcements
  • Personally invite children and adults with disabilities to participate in ministries, clubs, religious education programs and events. Arrange for accommodations.(Pathways Awareness Foundation)
ways to be more inclusive and welcoming cont
Ways to be more inclusive and welcoming cont.
  • Make materials available in audiotape, large print, Braille and electronic formats
  • Install amplification systems and provide listening devices. Create a list of qualified interpreters and provide when needed
  • Keep individuals who are blind informed by announcing information from the bulletin at the end or beginning
  • When new members join, ask in a sensitive and dignified way if any accommodations would enhance their participation in the faith community. (Pathways Awareness Foundation)
some selected resources
Some selected resources
  • National Catholic Partnership on Disability,
  • National Jewish Council for the Disabled,
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,
  • National Organization on Disability, Religion and Disability Program,
  • American Association People with Disabilities Interfaith
  • National Library Service for the Blind Bibles, hymnals, and more in electronic, Braille, large print and audio formats
  • Accessible congregations, and making places of worship accessible
a welcoming church offers empowerment not pity advocacy not avoidance and support not stigma
A welcoming church offers empowerment, not pity; advocacy not avoidance; and support not stigma.
  • Eliminate all barriers that keep members with disabilities from attending meetings and activities. A welcoming attitude with easy access, handrails, materials in alternative formats, audiovisual equipment and parking makes full participation possible.
  • Seek and discuss ideas to promote understanding and better inclusion of children and adults with disabilities.
  • Remember that all can contribute to the building of the kingdom of God and should receive the blessings of giving and receiving. All members need a friend, an assignment or calling and nourishing by the word of God (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).
contact information
Contact Information
  • Marilyn Hammond, Ph.D.

Email: [email protected], 435-797-3811 or 800-524-5152

  • Sachin Pavithran, M.S.

Email: [email protected], 435-797-6572 or 800-524-5152

thank you
Thank You!

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