Accessibility for those with physical, mental or other exceptionalities is becoming a higher priority in the church. While we are not experts in the field, we continue to look for and find ways to accommodate individuals who require some additional assistance.
Some thoughts to consider:
- Do you know what exceptionalities exist in your group? Sometimes they are obvious; other times it may take some investigating. As parents, my wife and me (Alvin), were up front about our child’s exceptionality with any group that oversaw him…how best to engage him. As a staff person, I realize some parents will be up front and others won’t. Don’t hesitate to ask how you can accommodate the kids in your care so their experiences will be as positive as possible.
- What accommodations need to be in place? This will be a unique answer for each individual. No one accommodation can address every exceptionality. Discuss it with the child’s parents/guardians and other caregivers.
- Always treat the individual with dignity and respect. While we may not intend to do so, sometimes our “over intention” does more harm than good. For example, . if someone has a hearing impairment, we tend to speak more slowly and loudly. That’s not always needed. If a person has a support worker, we sometimes address the support worker instead of the individual. In most cases, especially if the exceptionality has been identified, the person will already know what kind of help they need. The best question is ask is, “How can I help you?”
At Avalanche and Blizzard this year, we have someone on our team who specializes in special needs accommodations. We want to do our part in helping every youth experience a God-changing weekend, and will do whatever we can to make it happen.
What accommodations are you striving to provide for those individuals in your church?