Accessibility to all

Canon Victoria Garvey of the Diocese of Chicago spoke with Episcopal Life Online earlier this week about the importance of accessibility when it comes to fulfilling the promise of “welcoming all.”

When one considers the signs that point people to Episcopal Church congregations — the ones that say “The Episcopal Church welcomes you” — calling for the church to be accessible to all is a “no-brainer.” The accessibility is possible in some parts of the church, Garvey said, but it must become the norm “all across the board.”

That includes paying attention to what might be called unseen disabilities, she said. For example, someone with a heart condition may appear to be otherwise able but may not be able to climb stairs. Hearing difficulties, which are often not discernable by others, can prevent many people from truly participating in liturgies or program, she added, giving another example.

If part of the reason for the slow progress towards accessibility has to do with consciousness-raising, Garvey acknowledged that cost and the snowballing effect of making changes have been very important also. Given the way the ADA and other building codes work, if a congregation begins to improve its accessibility, it is usually expected to become completely accessible.

“You do one thing and then you have to do 16,” Garvey said.

The whole thing is here.

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