The United Methodists have two great new resources available: an extensive Accessibility Audit for Churches and an Accessibility Mini-audit for Churches.
I’m a member of the Committee on Disabilities of the National Council of Churches which met last week. The editors of the audit, Devorah Greenstein and Charlotte Shepard, presented it to the committee. In the discussion that followed, one of the committee members said that she has asked youth groups to conduct the audit at their churches. (Usually she encourages youth groups to use the mini-audit.)
When they do the audit, she suggests that they push someone around in a wheelchair (preferably the pastor or building committee chair). The mini-audit is brief enough to do during one youth group meeting. If there are too many youth to do the audit together, several groups can complete the audit by beginning in different parts of the church building.
Not only do the participants learn about accessibility and empathy for people with disabilities, but also completing the audit provides a valuable service to the church leadership. A meeting about disability awareness could precede or follow the meeting in which the group conducts the audit so that the young people can further develop their understanding of the importance of inclusion of people with disabilities in the church.