SCOTTISH CHURCHES DISABILITY GROUP

SCOTTISH CHURCHES DISABILITY GROUP

Since the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland made recommendations in 2009 that Presbyteries should have a disability advisor, a number of churches have appointed one. The Scottish Churches Disability Group have put some guidelines together for churches. Lindsay and Helena Cant have been on that committee for the past three years (scdg.org.uk), and Helena is now our disability advisor. How does this relate to our Church? Here are Helena’s thoughts: Thankfully church is a much more positive experience for people with disabilities than it was when I was bringing people in wheelchairs to church in the 1960s, though there is still some way to go. We are fortunate to have a warm, well-lit church that is fairly easy to move round with easy access.

Where there is a person in the family who becomes disabled, more than 50% of families who previously attended stop going to church. If people physically can’t get to church, CDs of our services are available. Alternatively, services are available to stream, such as from Dalziel St Andrews Church in Motherwell, which also includes signing in British Sign Language (BSL). Where there is a family carer involved, a rota of church members could allow a relative to get to church from time to time. Not all disabilities are visible, and if there are ways that coming to church could be made easier for someone, we need to know!

Once in church, the size of print, font used, and background colour that information is printed on can all make a difference. As an example, I am slightly dyslexic, and black print on grey background on the screen make it very hard for me to read. Maybe we should be thinking of clearer signage in our church buildings, for example, a light switch sign in the toilets. Little things can make a huge difference. We need to keep abreast with what other denominations are doing to encourage inclusion of their members with disabilities. There is always more to learn.

Since the introduction of All Friends Together, we have already seen the positive difference such a group has made to our church life. Maybe the next thing to do is to to be a dementiafriendly Church.

Certainly, the Perfect Sunday afternoons are another way to show that we are striving to be a more inclusive Church.