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Accessibility in a Pandemic

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This article is part of our Winter 2021 Breaking Barriers. This installment focuses on unexpected access. If you'd like to read more stories from this issue, please subscribe to Breaking Barriers

As much as we long for certain practices to return, we also recognize that some things have changed forever—in some ways, for the better. 

This issue of Breaking Barriers is focused on people with disabilities unexpectedly discovering new places of access during the pandemic, like connecting with others digitally, participating in worship on an equal basis with others, joining in hymn sings and prayer groups, and slowing down the pace of a task-driven life to focus on people.

We all have examples of how life has changed during the course of this pandemic. Ten days before I was scheduled to begin two weeks of travel to the East Coast last March, travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders were issued. All of my plans were canceled or put on hold, and I’ve been working from home ever since. 

Through technology, I’ve been able to host meetings and to preach—from churches located in the same city where I live to as far as 800 miles away. RCA-CRC Disability Concerns transitioned its annual three-day leadership training in August from an in-person event to two days of virtual meetings—and at a fraction of the usual cost. Our virtual gathering allowed a cadre of people with disabilities unable to venture to Michigan to join us, and we were freed up to enlist presenters and panelists from other countries and continents who never would have joined us in person!

Overcoming barriers and gaining access often requires persistence, determination, creativity, planning, and agility—in everyday life, and in unexpected, transformational times like these.

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