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Why Be Accessible?

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Who Are People with Disabilities?

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Ushers: Ministers of Hospitality

 

 
Information for Congregations

WHO ARE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES?

People with disabilities comprise a vast (at least 56 million, one out of every five Americans), diverse population. Disability is experienced by all racial, social, economic, gender and age groups. It can happen to anyone, at any time, at any place, in any circumstance. Disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act as a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual such as walking, speaking, and breathing."

There are many kinds of disability, such as sensory impairment, mental impairment, physical disabilities, "hidden disabilities," emotional disabilities, and various others. The DISC (Disability Concerns) web site, www.gbgm-umc.org/health, has excellent additional information and general resources.  After accessing www.gbgm-umc.org/health visit Disability Concerns, the next-to-last of the Health & Welfare Ministries of The United Methodist Church.  You can access other extensive, varied denominational resources at the Episcopal Disability Network's web site, www.disability99.org.

As a general rule, people with disabilities do not like to be identified by their disability. For example, a person with epilepsy should not be identified as an "epileptic." The reasoning is that the disability - whether it is epilepsy or anything else - does not define the person. It is simply something that the person has and lives with. He or she is much more than the disability. It is very important to understand this fundamental truth.

People with disabilities have made great strides in the last 50 years. Their progress was highlighted in 1990 by the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Nonetheless, need for continued leadership remains strong as various goals of the ADA are still not realized. For example, the number of Americans with disabilities who are either unemployed or underemployed actually has risen since ADA became law. Various court rulings have also limited the scope of the ADA in American society.

The Disability Awareness Committee believes that each person, including the person with a disability, is a child of God, deeply loved and cared for by their Creator. Many faith communities have stated their belief that God sees in persons with disabilities a wholeness of spirit where our imperfect vision may see only brokenness of body or mind.

 


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Disability Awareness Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
Contact
The Rev. Chuck Swinehart chswinehart@gmail.com

 

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