Disability Awareness Sunday is an opportunity to raise awareness concerning people with disabilities and to explore their full engagement in the church's life. In the RCA, the second Sunday in October is designated as Disability Awareness Sunday; in the CRC, the second week in October is Disability Awareness Week and culminates on the third Sunday in October. However, congregations are encouraged to highlight disability awareness whenever it is most convenient.
Here are several suggestions for celebrating Disability Awareness Sunday (taken from the Inclusion Handbook):
- Schedule an adult forum on living with a disability (or a similar topic). Offer children a chance to meet people with disabilities, use a wheelchair and crutches, and learn sign language.
- Plan a worship service themed around God’s love and acceptance of all people. Encourage the worship leader to consider gathering a few persons from your church community who have a disability or parent a child with a disability to talk about what they experience, helpful or hurtful scriptures, life experiences, etc.
- In worship planning, invite persons with disabilities to share their gifts in appropriate ways (as liturgists, ushers, communion servers, musicians, preachers, etc.), but do so in a way that avoids putting people with disabilities "on display."
- Use "people-first language," not language that emphasizes the disabling condition.
- Emphasize that persons with disabilities are made in the image of God and that all are part of the body of Christ, meaning all have value, dignity, and spiritual gifts.
- Complete a church accessibility audit that involves church leaders and people with disabilities. Find ways to make your church as accessible as possible.
- Form a planning committee and target the needs of your local community. Reach out to the community by inviting persons with disabilities and their families to participate in worship and educational offerings.
In whatever approach your church uses, exercise care to avoid perpetuating disability stereotypes.