All are welcome: Accessibility in Churches

Image Description: A classic TEC church road sign that has been altered to read: "The Episcopal Church Graciously and Accessibly welcomes you on site and online!"The Episcopal Church Welcomes You

For more than five decades, signs with this message have pointed people to our churches and, we hope, our message of welcome for all of God’s people within our Episcopal church spaces, whether those spaces are online or on site. However, for people with physical disabilities and mobility challenges or people who have low or no vision or hearing, simply entering our church spaces can be difficult, if not impossible. When our physical and virtual spaces have barriers to entry, our message of welcome and, by extension, the gospel of Jesus that all are loved by God can ring hollow.

Although churches are exempt from many accessibility mandates in civil law, God’s law of love calls us to strive to welcome all, meeting them where they are and how they can be met. And, we know that removing barriers and improving accessibility benefits everyone.

To help your congregation begin and continue conversations about how you can improve your welcome and inclusion by increasing the accessibility of your online and on-site spaces, we’ve gathered these resources.

Physical Accessibility

From basic needs like ramps and handicap accessible bathrooms to more welcome-centric concerns like making spaces for wheelchairs in the main pew areas of your naves (instead of making wheelchair users sit in the back!), there are a number of things that you can do in your parish to improve physical accessibility. 

Digital Accessibility

The main ideas behind web accessibility center on content being perceivable (e.g., text alternatives for non-text content and using high contrast color combinations), operable (e.g., simple navigation), understandable (e.g., predictable content operations and appearances), and robust (i.e., able to work with accessibility tools like screen readers). Additionally, keep in mind that most people interact with your content on a mobile device and not a computer, so designing with a mobile-inclusive (if not mobile-first!) mindset is important. Reach out to our Communications team for support!

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Image Description - A collage of photos from Mission of MiraclesThe image reads: "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? We will with God's help" and includes the logo of the diocese. The background of the image is a photo of a light pink, white, and light blue trans pride flag.