The United Methodist Committee on Disability Ministries

How to make your congregation accessible for little or no money

A frequent perception is that making a congregation's building accessible to people with disabilities is expensive. It is true that equipment such as elevators does cost money, but there are many things a congregation can do for very little money that will dramatically increase access.

  • First — and most important — is to have an attitude that it matters. All of the access features in the world will not matter if the people of the congregation are not welcoming. And if there is a problem with access, showing real concern for the person will go a long way toward overcoming problems.
  • In worship bulletins and similar materials, instead of using an asterisk to indicate "congregation stands," change it to read "that all who are able and wish to do so should stand."
  • Provide at least one accessible parking spot marked with the appropriate sign, and educate your congregation on the importance of respecting such spaces — at church and elsewhere.
  • Designate a person in the congregation to be the director of disability ministries, so that all concerns can be heard.
  • Start a Disability Ministry Fund. No set amount is required, but it will remind people that this is an important matter.
  • Celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday annually. But don't stop there: make it a focus day for ongoing activities.
  • Conduct an accessibility audit so you can formulate goals for increasing access.
  • Have a church web site and put the results of your accessibility audit on the site, so prospective visitors can be assured that their concerns are important to you.

—Debbie Wade
(Adapted from the North Alabama Conference Disability Ministries Newsletter, December 2009)

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  • If you have a large parking lot, pick up people with a golf cart and transport them to the door.
  • Offer valet parking for people with disabilities or other conditions that make it difficult to get to your door from the parking lot.
  • Place a map at your door (and have copies available) indicating where accessible facilities are. Also be sure to note areas where access is a problem.