The Inaccessible Elevator

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Rich Dixon's story, "The Secret Elevator," in the newest issue of Breaking Barriers, helped me realize that even spending the extra bucks to install an elevator does not make a building accessible.

I heard a similar story from someone else last week about an elevator at another church that was kept under lock and key.

Locking elevators makes about as much sense as keeping the Sunday bulletin in a locked display case. Everyone knows that they are there, but they are kept nice so that they won't get spoiled or ruined.

We print bulletins to use them, not display them. We build elevators to use them, not to feel good that our building is accessible.

I understand building committees that fear rambunctious kids who will overuse an elevator. But I would guess that like everything else, once the novelty of the elevator wears off (within two weeks after it is installed) the kids will leave it alone. I've seen a few church bulletins turned into paper airplanes too. But that hasn't led the church secretary to keep them locked in a display case.

In sharp contrast, a Disability Concerns volunteer took me recently on a tour of her church, Borculo Christian Reformed. Clear signage leads users easily to the elevator. Doors on both sides make it accessible at each level of the church building. Buttons placed at a level easily pressed by someone who uses a wheelchair make it easy to control. Doors that operate on their own (not a manually operated gate) make it accessible even to people who have limited use of their hands. It was a model for what a church elevator should be.

If your church has an elevator or lift, please do everything you can to ensure that it gets as much use as possible not as little use as possible.

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