The Body of Christ cannot be complete until all people are accepted into communities of faith. However, a welcome sign outside the church is not enough. The sign may say, “Welcome,” but the steps may say, “You must be able to walk up stairs to enter.” The advertisement in the newspaper may say, “All are welcome,” but in reality you have to hear well and see well to participate fully. Before churches can become truly welcoming communities for persons with disabilities, church facilities, procedures, and the ways in which we communicate must be evaluated and made accessible.
An accessibility audit is a list of items that your congregation can use to evaluate its accessibility. Conducting such an audit does not guarantee compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, building codes, or other legal requirements, but one can be used to get a program underway and alert you to potential problems. Structural modifications should be made in consultation with an architect or engineer. It's also a good idea — and surprisingly rarely thought of — to have some people with disabilities review your plans. This will help ensure that they really work!
We offer a disability and accessibility audit to help your congregation assess its strengths and weaknesses. This audit is intended for annual use as part of charge conference preparation. It covers physical layout and facilities as well as communication, welcoming, and worship practices.
Through GBGM, the United Methodist Church offers an extensive audit of facilities, features, and programs. This extensive audit includes background information and references.
Here are several other sites that offer audits and checklists on accessibility:
— October 2017