Welcoming People with Disabilities
A parish Opens Doors whenever it follows Jesus' example in specific and compassionate action toward people with physical, mental or emotional limitations. Welcoming parishes are intentional in communicating accessibility and welcoming all God's children - all differently-abled.
"Just as the Church must do all in its power to help ensure people with disabilities a secure place in the human community, we it must reach out to welcome gratefully those who seek to participate in the ecclesial community. For most Catholics the community of believers is embodied in the local parish." - Pastoral Statement of U.S. Bishops on Persons with Disabilities, 1978.
After assessing accessibility and supportive facilities for people with disabilities, a conscientious parish communicate existing and planned supports through signs, the website, the bulletin and print materials. Post the following at all entrances:
- if hearing assistance is provided, post information indicating what specific devices or technology is available and where to obtain it
- if there is a designated area in the church for seating for persons with mobility disabilities, mark these areas clearly and visibly
- if large print missals are available, this should be communicated by a sign in the entrance with the location of these identified
- include the appropriate access symbols indicating the accommodation for an event in all publicity and on program registration form
In all these ways, people with disabilities feel more comfortable to welcome and sense a sincere welcome, acceptance and accommodation for their participation in the life of the parish. Consider these other resources in your steps to become a welcoming and inclusive community:
Ten Easy Ways to Welcome People with Disabilities
Hosting an Event
Feeling Comfortable with People with Disabilities
Faith Formation for People with Disabilities in the Southtowns - God's Family 2 Program