As a young teenager, when I believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior and was baptized, my church gave me a Bible with typical print that was too small for me to read even with glasses. They probably did not know large print existed and neither did I. It was 12 years later, by the grace of the Lord, that I discovered a larger print Bible and became an avid Bible reader.
I pray you bear with me a little as I briefly share some of what I read since that discovery and what I think it means.
Deuteronomy 22:8, When you build a house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house if anyone should fall from it. (ESV).
In most places today it is law and common sense to put up safety rails on a high porch. It is from the Bible that we learn to be responsible for what we build and create (see also Matt 25:40; Phil.2:4; and Rom. 15:1). Many well-known, reasonable precautions exist to guard against the potential for causing or allowing harm to others. Excluding people from church is harming them.
Hebrews 12:13, Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (NIV).
It is from the Bible that we learn people may have impairments, but their interactions with certain environments are what create disability. Today we have control over the environments we create with our information and communication technology. We can easily learn why and how to use our tools to set-up church to include instead of exclude, to heal instead of harm people.
Romans 13:10, Love does no wrong to a neighbor.
The Royal Law of Love includes not excluding our neighbors from the message of eternal life or Christian fellowship. Changing our habitual misuse of computers so as to include those who can see, read, or hear somewhat, but not well, is not a separate "disability" ministry. It is our routine responsibility. The Bible teaches us not to harm or disable people in the first place.
Luke 6:32, If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
Most groups, Christian or not, will take care of their own when there is a need. Most churches will help someone who they know needs help or who requests help, but people with a hidden impairment are not likely to ask for help. They participate less or not at all and leave. A more excellent way is available to us with our computers. We can set up church to be more accessible.
We can set up and use our communication technology to regularly reach more of the 1.5 billion people of all ages at home and abroad who do not see, hear, or read well. For many of these people it is just obvious when a church is not accessible. They see the signs, print notices, books, bulletins, name tags, screens, or try to listen to a sound system that does not have a hearing loop or is too loud and they know whether or not a sanctuary is accessible. Having our messages accessible to the general public will help fulfill the Church’s mission.
Proverbs 3:27, Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
Not all churches have the resources to reach everyone and some people are not easy to reach. Today we have the power to reach many more people by how we use our information and communication technology tools. We can remove barriers use universal design and always have alternatives available. The information on how to do this is readily available on the Internet (see ada.gov and other sites).
Accessible use of our communication technology is essential for participation in the Word, worship, fellowship, and service. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul from 1 Cor. 14:9, 23, if technology makes a message unintelligible to some people, how will they know what is being said? Will they not say you are out of your minds?
Can we have the mind of Christ? The Church’s mission is to communicate the Gospel in word and in deed. When we misuse our information and communication technology we fail at both. Let us instead fully comply with the ADA to reach more of those who need to see, hear, understand and respond to our Lord Jesus Christ,
Matthew 11: 28-30, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Accessibility Audit of Church Use of Information and Communication Technology
- Printed material generally distributed to individuals or families Start by making 10% of the total in large print (18 point font or larger) which almost anyone can use
- Computer projection of lyrics, outlines, scripture, messages, notices Project in each screen only 10 to 15 words that fill the entire screen using good color contrast
- Evangelistic and missions materials and technology
- Signs (permanent and occasional announcements and name tags)
- Books (Bibles, song, or lesson books, and some of a church library)
- Internet (Websites, email, live stream, Zoom, apps, other social media)
- Sound systems (aids for hearing, a hearing loop, and decibel levels)
- Video (audio narration and print descriptive captioning).
- Knowledge and attitudes of members, leaders, and staff about accessibility for people who do not see, hear, or read well
- Knowledge of available resources for accessibility.
Note: Technology is a large and changing area itself. Other barriers exist, such as architectural issues. Those need a separate accessibility audit.
See all three new articles:
- The ADA and The Church
- Why Be An Accessible Church?
- A Scriptural Look at Creating an Accessible Church
Dr. John Jay Frank
Dr. Frank, an ordained minister of the Gospel and a research scientist for many years, authored a multi-year, federally funded, three volume research project on the impact of the Americans With Disability Act (ADA). In these three new articles, he focuses on church denominations which, in all their portions, voluntarily chose to fully comply with the ADA.
To learn more, go to www.minstrelmissions.com. Click on the book’s picture to read the Preface, TOC and Introduction to, Turning Barriers Into Bridges, and, Come, Worship In Spirit and In Truth, both books are written by John Jay Frank (the view more tab leads to the amazon.com page). Questions or comments? Contact [email protected].