The Scottish Churches Disability Group encourages churches and individual congregations to appoint a suitable person as a Disability Adviser. Ideally, this person should have either personal experience of disability or understanding gained through employment or family life, but this is not essential, as training can be given by various organisations. Some of these are listed on the SCDG website at http://scdg.org.uk/finding-help/ .
Some denominations have produced guidelines for this role. The following suggestions are intended to supplement such advice and are based on the personal experience of people with disabilities.
Requirements of the Disabilities Adviser
The role of the Disability Adviser is to be an informed advocate on current disability and inclusion issues. A Disability Adviser in this context is not an expert on every kind of disability, but rather is someone who will listen to the needs of disabled people and work with others to find ways of making full inclusion in church life easier for everyone, regardless of a disability.
being an active member of any Disabilities Network within their denomination;
- liaising with and learning from ecumenical groups which support congregations in efforts to be more inclusive of people with disabilities;
- being a point of contact for disabled members in their congregation, in order to address their needs and engage their talents in worship and the community life of the church;
- raising awareness among the congregation of developments, provision and good practice in the inclusion of people with disabilities in church life;
- being proactive in suggesting improvements in their congregation.
Sources of support for Disability Advisers
- Access issues in buildings
CARTA – Church Art and Architecture Committee – advising on accessible buildings
- Learning good practice from people with disabilities
“Disability” by John Hull, Inclusive Church Resource, published by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, 2014
Churches for All http://churchesforall.org.uk/
Scottish Churches Disability Group http://scdg.org.uk/
Through the Roof http://www.throughtheroof.org/
- Deaf Ministry
- Learning disabilities
Faith and Light – http://www.faithandlight.org.uk/
Prospects – www.prospects.org.uk
SPRED – Roman Catholic Church – http://www.spred.org.uk/
- Mental health
“Mental Health” by Jean Vanier & John Swinton, Inclusive Church Resource, published by Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd, 2016
- Sight loss
Torch Trust – Support for visually impaired people http://www.torchtrust.org/
- Local contacts
Check in your local area for advice on disability issues which may be available from
Access panels, local authorities’ support workers and voluntary sector support groups.