Saturday, 11 March 2017

Disabled Access Day: Is your Church Accessible?

Close your eyes and imagine standing on the road facing your church on a Sunday morning.
How accessible do you think it is?

Give it a rating from
Poor     Needs Improvement     Almost there    Accessible

Now go through the questions in each section below and think about accessibility.

Can you see the door?
Is it well lit?
Can you see how it opens?
Can you open it with one hand if you aren't very strong or aren't standing up?
Is it open already?

Is the path to the door smooth and without loose trip hazards?
Any holes to fall down?
Is the path well lit?
Is the path wide enough for two people to walk down next to each other?

Are there any steps?
Is there a ramp available if there are steps?
Is this in place?
If not, is there someone obviously making a move to put it in place?

Is there someone at the door welcoming people?
Are they smiling and looking pleased to meet you?

As they welcome you, do they ask if you would like large print information?
or help with finding a seat?
 do they tell you about the t-loop?
do they show you where the toilets are?
are they accessible toilets?

do they give you a brief outline of the service and what will happen?
do they perhaps offer to sit with you through the service?
if you don't want any help, do they take that well and go back to welcoming someone else?

Internal Furniture
Are there spaces for wheelchairs?
How many?  3? 4? 10?
Do these locations feel part of the body of the church?
Or are they off to one side and feel isolated?

Are the seats comfortable for people in pain?
If the chairs or pews are hard and narrow;
are there chairs for people who could not sit on them for more than a few minutes?

Is the lighting providing good light levels to everyone?
Do any of the lights flicker?
Are there are dark spots in the building?

Are there any steps or raised platforms in the church?
Are these used by congregation during the services?
Are these ramped to allow full access to all areas?
Can anyone with any mobility or sight disability access all parts of the church they need?

Does the person who opens the service introduce themselves?
Do they welcome everyone?
Do they give an outline of the service?
Do they say it's OK to leave if anyone feels they need to?
Do they point out people who are available to help anyone through the service?

Is the t-loop working?
Is the screen well placed for light levels?
Are the words on the screen in a clear font and large enough for most people to read easily?
Does the screen flicker?

Is the order of service and hymn book well laid out so anyone can read it?
Does the service leader refer to page numbers to help anyone new to find where they are?

After the Service
Does the person closing the service invite everyone to stay for refreshments?
Does anyone offer you a drink?
Do people talk to strangers?

Is there a team of people who give information about the church community to new comers?
Is it OK to say you're happy to say you're just visiting?

Is there space to move around the church?
Is the exit clearly signed?
Are there people at the door saying goodbye with a smile and an invite to return?

Now you've gone through these questions 
(it's not a complete list by any stretch of the imagination)

How accessible do you think your church is?
Give it a rating from
Poor     Needs Improvement     Almost there    Accessible

What action are you going to take to increase the accessibility of your church?


Karen Gooding said...

I tried to post a comment earlier today. Fine in principle but there is no reference to the more subtle ' hidden ' disabilities ( autism /dyslexia etc)
Also, as priest I have no sense of needing to flag up structure and content of the service which I consider would be disruptive to worship and patronising to worshippers.

Emma Major said...

Thanks for your comment Karen. This is definitely not a comprehensive list of everything churches need to think about, they're are learning disabilities and mental health challenges and more; I just wanted to get people thinking.

As for not providing an introduction to the service; I am shocked that you would think this would be disruptive or patronising. How would I as a blind person know what's happening if no one explained it? And how safe would that make me feel? Our church always provides a simple welcome and introduction and prompts through the service and it is helpful for everyone and reassuring for the unsure.