Chair: Teresa Thompson
Contact Teresa here.
Mission of the Access Ministry:
To encourage the inclusion of all members in the church and to educate the church about the ways that people with special needs can contribute to the mission of the church
What is a special need?
A special need is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include breathing, communicating, hearing, learning, manual tasks, seeing, walking, or working.
We are not a standalone ministry. Rather, we support all the ministries in the church because people with special needs should be involved in every ministry in the church.
1. Accessibility--to provide a place where everyone feels welcome regardless of his or her physical or mental condition. Church facilities, from the telephone to the entire structure of the building, should be accessible by all. This may also include resources, such as providing large print materials, a sign-language interpreter, or even closed captioning video, if available.
2. Education--to train people who do not have special needs and those with special needs to work together in spreading the gospel.
3. Encouragement--to promote participation of persons with special needs in all aspects of church life, thus fostering the spiritual wellbeing of the whole church.
4. Accommodation--to help God's family be inclusive in principle and practice. Transportation, service animals, or a buddy system to relieve a caregiver are ways to be explored in meeting this goal.
The 10 Commandments For Communicating with People with Disabilities:1. Speak directly rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter who may be present.
2. Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited hand use or an artificial limb can usually shake hands and offering the left hand is an acceptable greeting.
3. Always identify yourself and others who may be with you when meeting someone with a visual disability. When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking. When dining with a friend who has a visual disability, ask if you can describe what is on his or her plate.
4. If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen or ask for instructions.
5. Treat adults as adults. Address people with disabilities by their first names only when extending that same familiarity to all others. Never patronize people in wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder.
6. Do not lean against or hang on someone's wheelchair. Bear in mind that people with disabilities treat their chairs as extensions of their bodies. And so do people with guide dogs and help dogs. Never distract a work animal from their job without the owner's permission.
7. Listen attentively when talking with people who have difficulty speaking and wait for them to finish. If necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, or a nod of the head. Never pretend to understand; instead repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond.
8. Place yourself at eye level when speaking with someone in a wheelchair or on crutches.
9. Tap a person who has a hearing disability on the shoulder or wave your hand to get his or her attention. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly, and expressively to establish if the person can read your lips. If so, try to face the light source and keep hands, cigarettes and food away from your mouth when speaking. If a person is wearing a hearing aid, don't assume that they have the ability to discriminate your speaking voice. Never shout to a person. Just speak in a normal tone of voice.
10. Relax. Don't be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions such as,"See you later," or "Did you hear about this?" that seems to relate to a person's disability.