Church Access for Persons with Disabilities


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Adults with Cognitive Disabilities/Mental Retardation: Approaches to Adult Faith Formation --- From the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops,  this is called a "resource and idea book."  It is long, but has a lot of practical suggestions for assisting the faith formation of adults with cognitive or other developmental disabilities. 


Definitions of disabilities  

No definition fits everyone.


Disability Etiquette --- What to do when you meet a person with a disability.  Hint--- Executive summary: When all your great ideas and wisdom fail, try, "Hello." 


Guiding Principles & Strategies for Inclusion in the Liturgy of Catholics with Disabilities --- These guiding principles are provided for Pastors, Liturgists, Parish Advocates, Liturgy Planners, Designers, Architects, and all those who have a concern for the design of the worship space and the planning liturgical celebrations.  They are provided for the purposed of assuring that all members of the worshiping community are able to participate fully in the worship life of their parishes and also to insure that all who are appropriately qualified can fully participate in the various liturgical ministries.  This material is published by the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, Liturgical Arts and Music Committee (August 25, 2005)  Click here to visit their website.


Inclusion Tips for children with autism --- This is good advice that can apply to many people even those without Autism.  As with everything, this advice will not work for everyone.  God made us unique which is a blessing but makes it difficult to give out advice.


Ministry Responsibilities --- Those in areas of authority in parishes have a unique responsibility to minister to all and to assist all people in their faith development.  These general suggestions are an approach to ministering to person with disabilities.  The individual faith community may develop approaches that reflect the uniqueness of their congregation.


Moving from Inviting to Inclusion to Integration   Many people believe that "inclusion" is the goal that churches should be achieving.  This piece challenges that theory and urges us to consider "integration" as the goal!  Ironically, the original U.S. Bishops' Statement on Disabilities (1978) used the word "integrate" before the word "inclusion" became the norm.


Parish Advocacy Programs --- Many parishes have created a role of a person who serves as a parish advocate or a group that serves this function.  The Parish Advocate is very unique to the parish's ministry so the program can vary from place to place.. There are many parishes that have adopted such a program in the Diocese of Cleveland.  I present here a general outline.  If there is greater interest in this idea I will post many other ideas for creating such a parish ministry.


Pastor's Tip Sheet: Welcoming People with Disabilities (Adapted from the National Apostolate for Inclusion Ministry).  NAfIM has developed a very practical one-page sheet of facts and appropriate pastoral responses for welcoming persons with disabilities.  In addition, this page gives suggestions for a DRE to be more welcoming and how to make Liturgies more meaningful.


People 1st Language --- This is an important consideration for anyone in ministry.  The language we use is about dignity and respect.  It is a matter of social justice.  Words are very important so we must be sensitive to the words we use to refer to persons with disabilities.  Two considerations are offered here:


1.  People 1st Language --- The first consideration is one that was produced by Ohio Public Images/Public Images Network, a not-for-profit communications and advocacy organization promoting positive awareness of people with disabilities.


2.  People 1st Language by Kathie Snow is a longer consideration of the importance of language in describing individuals.  Used by permission, this page can be found on her website.







 Click here for information on Services and Ministries for Persons with Disabilities in the Diocese of Cleveland


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Last Update to this page was March 15, 2011

Copyright 2006 Dennis C. McNulty