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Accept. Include. Celebrate. A Holiday Challenge.

How can we be extra mindful and supportive of persons and families affected by disability during this season? Here are a few ideas. 

Disability Concerns
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Dear Elders . . . A Letter about Accommodating

This letter was sent by friends to the elders of their congregation on behalf of a friend and fellow member who has Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.

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Disability Doesn't Preclude Wellness

One can be well and live with a serious mental illness or disability. But wellness does require community (such as a church). Therefore let's ask, "Is my church a place where people can be well?" 

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Just Walk with Me

What I’d really like is if you would “just walk with me”. If you’ve been where I am, tell me how you felt in a way that I can know you’re trying to walk with me — not change me.

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The Instinctive Language of Belonging

I did not realize how much she would contribute to everyone’s learning, how the classroom would became a place where the societal barriers between people of various abilities would temporarily break down.

Disability Concerns
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Make A Real Difference

How can we make a positive difference in our churches and communities in working with people with disabilities? Compiled by Ann Ballard, this list gets you started. Have fun and get going!

Disability Concerns
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A Safe, Supportive Church for All

When I was 14, my 38-year-old mother sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI). When Mom came home from the hospital, her personality had changed dramatically. How can the church help?

Disability Concerns
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Creating a Community Where Everyone Belongs and Serves

Through the apostle Paul, God paints a vision for his people in 1 Corinthians 12 as one body, together in Christ. No one excludes another. (The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”) No one self-excludes.

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Living with Cerebral Palsy, Rejection, and Welcome

Susie Angel talks about the rejection and the welcome she experienced in churches as a person with cerebral palsy. She says, "God needed me for a purpose to be the way I am, that purpose was to teach able bodied people that it was okay to be different."

Disability Concerns
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A Mother's Wish List

Here's a “wish list”, created by mothers of what they would find helpful for local churches to offer families who have children with special needs.

Disability Concerns
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Let's Have Some Awkward Conversations

As congregational members who do not have intellectual disabilities engage week in and week out with those who do, everyone learns and grows. People have to learn how to talk with others who are much different from them. That requires everyone to take risks, to reach out to one another, to have awkward conversations that will, over time, become less awkward.

Disability Concerns
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A Shared Vision for a Preferred Future

As a church becomes an active and visible place for inclusion of everybody within their midst, that church will become attractive and welcoming for any neighbor seeking a place to name and take pleasure in the “good news expressed in my church.”

Disability Concerns
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Your Church Can Play a Vital Role in Emergencies

As an organization in a community, churches do the best job of knowing who currently has special needs within their congregations and often within their community.

Disability Concerns
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Danger and Healing in Telling Our Stories

I thank God for people who are willing to tell their stories, especially when those stories could be turned against them. This danger looms especially for people whose story includes mental illness. Being open about one's own journey can risk loss of job, friends, family, and rejection by fellow church members. 

Disability Concerns
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Wanted: Companion

Many people loathe December and January. Holiday parties can bring pain along with joy. People renew old tensions, unbury hatchets, and pronounce judgments on others. Perhaps even worse, some people sit home alone, uninvited to gatherings with loneliness blowing cold like a winter draft.

Disability Concerns
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Times are Changing for Vets

In the 1960s and early ’70s, U.S. military personnel were often treated shamefully upon returning to civilian life. Those flying home from their tour of duty in Germany or Vietnam were told to change into civilian clothes before boarding the plane. If they walked into a U.S. airport wearing their military uniforms, they risked being shouted at, cursed, even spat upon.

Disability Concerns
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How I Deal with My Hearing Loss

As I regularly assess my situation, I discover that there are lots of things I still can do. I can think, write, see, feel, touch, smell. When I look at all the possibilities, life becomes exciting again.

Disability Concerns
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Have You Ever Really Listened When You Asked, "How are you?"

"We are all a part of God's story, and trusting Him through the twists and turns isn't easy.  At the heart of our stories is the essence of belonging - to each other and to Him.  And we need to know that we belong - even with our abnormalities and idiosyncrasies." - Sara Pot

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Divine Towels: A Novel about Healing

The novel, Divine Towels by Beau Jason McGlynn, describes a mother and son, Claire and Ethan, who are led by God to begin a healing ministry called Divine Towels. By washing the feet of those seeking to be healed God uses Claire and Ethan to effect healing. 

Disability Concerns
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Platitudes: Translated

We heard things like 'It's good Katherine went to Tom and Glenda. They'll be able to handle this.' Translation: Thank God it wasn't me! Alternative translation: Don't look to me for help! I'm wiping my hands here.

Disability Concerns
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Stroke Survivors Will be Focus of New Study

If you have experienced a stroke and are involved in a church community, Dr. Peggy Goetz and her student assistants would like to be in touch with you for a study Goetz is conducting. She would like to interview stroke survivors and attend worship and other church activities with them over the course of several weeks

Disability Concerns
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How to Work Well with Siblings when Caring for An Aging Parent

As issues started coming up, we had to make decisions together. When should mom stop driving? Is she using the stove safely? Is she taking her meds correctly? When do we need to consider moving mom into assisted living? Facing such decisions can bring out old tensions and even tear families apart. We did not want this to happen to us.

Disability Concerns
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Get Ready: May is Mental Health Month

Mental health is not a particularly religious term. But the concern for wellness, for healing and recovery, and for the effects of illness and disease are part of spiritual care. It has never been easy for individuals suffering from brain disorders to find place among us.

Disability Concerns
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How Churches Can Respond to Mental Illness

Matthew Warren had the best medical care available, a loving church that cared for him and his family, and parents who loved and prayed for him. Yet, that could not keep Matthew with us.

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Mom's Last Little Light

Mom hasn’t been able to initiate conversation for several years, but only a few months ago yet, mom and I could have two sentence conversations. I would say a brief sentence, and she would usually give some appropriate response. Those appropriate responses are gone too. Except one.

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Thx Terry, It’s nice to know the struggles it’s taken to get fairness for the less abled! I am one too and appreciate the efforts of those who worked hard on this through history!

Thank You Mark for flushing out some details about the CRPD! I live in a state where my elected Senators already are for the treaty but I will Help by spreading the word.  

Good post Terry, I share your concerns as a disabled person also. If there were some information or plan in place to support these concerns, I wouldn’t be writing this but there is nothing that I know of to replace what already exists! That does make me wonder what will happen! 

That’s great! We have to raise support where ever you can. This won’t solve the issue completely but it’s a move forward! Good job Canada! 

Thank You Jonathan, This was suppose to be about disability! 

It is a sad day Mark, the disabled including myself need all the support we can get no matter if the organization is controversial to some! We need to keep focusing on the problems and issues that prevent help! A lot of people don’t like social security because of it’s a government program, but not turn down the benefits when they are available! 

Mark, you did nothing wrong! The facts are apparent in a lot of locations. Keep up the great work!

Thx Mark for the information! 

Sad, I know of no programs or even awareness at my church! 

Thanks Ken. Yes, like Barb Newman likes to say, we're all like green and pink puzzle pieces. Every one of us has things we're good at and things we are not good at, and those things differ with each of us. So we all need each other. 

Good job Mark! We all are disabled by life in various ways! Some are just visible!

Good post! Thank You

Beautiful story with a whole lot of truth. Thank you for giving ME fresh footing on the path today! 

Excellent guide! I like it how it covers a host of issues! Thx

 A little late in the day for our Worship Committee.  We've already done our Holiday planning.  We would need this in mid-November already.  But I'll forward this to the other committee members anyway. 

I would love to discuss this more with you.  Please feel free to email me at sara_walters10@hotmail.com

Because she is too "high functioning" for Social Security she does not qualify.  

I am not sure i understand what you mean that because your daughter does not have SS (Social Security?) that the cost of having a CLS worker are somewhat prohibitive.  Do you mean she does not qualify for state assistance with a CLS worker because of her income? 

 

I loved your article ..... Has Your Church Ever Helped Someone Who Needed to Find Paid Assistants? .... and the question it asks.  However, I do wish it included people who have other disabilities.  We would love to have a CLS worker for our daughter.  She does not have SS so the costs of having a CLS worker are somewhat prohibitive.  Churches should be reminded that the families of people with disabilities have shelled out thousands of dollars over the years, and they could be strapped and unable to provide services their child, mother, or father need, today.

  That's nice, but what about people with disabilities who have professional training? Although I've pretty much given up looking for a job, let alone a career, I have two B.A.s and the second one was in English Studies with a Major in Professional Writing in English.  Surely, not all the people with disabilities you work with have Down's Syndrome or are intellectually deficient?

Thanks Heather.  And may God bless your work with Friendship Ministries.  Hope to see you again.

I have been hiring caregivers for 20 years and this has been the most difficult time between the low pay and economy providing so many choices for employment.

Diane, this sounds like a deeply meaningful worship service. Thank you for sharing it here. 

Here is a service we have done in the past. We have used this basic form for the past several years, with some minor changes. One of the things we often do is to give nametags to the people who attend, and have them write the name of the person (including themselves) or situation they are thinking of or mourning during this season.  Something about naming it and writing it down helps begin, or open them up to,the healing.

Solo/Duet: Breath of Heaven

 

Welcome

This evening we gather during this Christmas season in a spirit of somber

remembrance. While the rest of the world seems to celebrating the joyous

occasion, we come to manger realizing that the world is cold as stone, feelings of

loneliness and loss overwhelm, and our heart cries out help me be strong, help

me . I invite each of you this evening not to hide or suppress those feelings, but

embrace them, realizing that they bring you much closer to the real Christmas

story.

 

For this evening we remember the true story helpless babe born into a world that

was struggling, a world that was questioning where was God, and world crying

out why? The helpless babe born in cold stone room without the joyous welcome

we often picture. The helpless babe born in a family that was poor, tired, and

frightened. The helpless babe who would change all this for the world.

 

We Gather in God's Presence

Lono, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May

my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. I am overwhelmed

with troubles, and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those

who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. (Psalm 88:1-4)

Light Christ Candle

 

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the

land of deep darkness a light has dawned ... For to us a child is born, to us a son

is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the

greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. (lsaiah 9:2 & 6-7)

 

Song:  O Little Town of Bethlehem

 

God's Greeting/Mutual Greetings

 

We Remember and Seek Comfort

 

Advent Candle Lighting: A Litany of Remembrance

 

First Candle; Persons who have been loved and lost

 

We light the first Advent candle and remember those persons who have been

loved and lost. We pause to remember their names, their faces, their voices.

We give thanks for the memory that binds them to us in this season.

Lord, surround us all with your eternal love.

 

AII sing: O come, O Come, lmmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! lmmanuel shall come to you, O lsrael.

 

(silence)

 

Word of comfort: Psalm 103:13-17

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are formed,

he remembers that we are dust.

The life of mortals is like grass,

they flourish like a flower of the field;

the wind blows over it and it is gone,

and  its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting

the Lord's love is with those who fear him,

and his righteousness with their children's children

 

Second Candle: Pain of Loss

 

We light a second candle mindful of the pain of loss: the loss of relationships,

the loss of jobs, or the loss of health. As we gather up the pain of the past,

we offer it to you, O God, asking that into our open hands you will place the

gift of peace.

Hold, help, heal us, O God.

 

All sing: O come, O Bright and Morning Star, and bring us comfort from afar!

Dispel the shadows of the night. And tum our darkness into light.

Rejoice! Rejoice! lmmanuel shall come to you, O lsrael.

 

(silence)

 

Word of Comfort: Psalm 139:11-12 (NLT)

I could ask the darkness to hide me

and the light around me to become night but

even in darkness I cannot hide from you.

To you the night shines as bright as day.

Darkness and light are the same to you.

 

Third Candle: Pain of Our Loss

 

We light a third candle to remember ourselves and the pain of our loss in this

Christmas season. We pause and remember the past weeks, months and,

for some of us, years of difficult times. We remember the poignancy of

memories, the grief, the sadness, the hurts, the fears.

We remember that the dawn overcomes the darkness.

AII sing: O come, O Key of David, come and open wide our heavenly home

Make safe for us the heavenward road and bar the way to death's abode.

Rejoice! Rejoice! lmmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

 

(silence)

 

Word of Comfort: Psalm 34.19 (NLT)

The righteous person faces many troubles,

but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

 

Fourth Candle: Remember others suffering with us

 

We light a fourth candle to remember all who have shared in our sorrow. We

thank you for their compassion, for their presence with us in times when our

hurt went deeper than words could express. We remember that you, Lord,

came to sympathize with our weakness and to carry our sorrows.

We thank you for those who held us and pointed to your light.

 

All sing: O come, O King of Nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind.

Bid all our sad divisions cease and be yourself our King of Peace.

Rejoicel Rejoice! lmmanuel shall come to you, O lsrael.

 

(silence)

 

Word of Comfort: Matthew 5:4 and 7

Blessed are those who mourn, for the will be comforted.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

 

Prayer of Comfort

 

We Hear God's Word

Scripture: John 1:1-5

Message: Christmas in the Darkness and Storm

 

We Respond in Hope

 

Prayer of Hope

 

God of compassion, we come again to you as Christmas nears. We grieve over

what might have been. A death or loss or struggle tarnishes our experience of

this season. We feel cut off from joy, lost from what we once felt, wondering if

the light will indeed come. We find ourselves adrift, alone, lost. Lord, help us

find our way.

Loving God, hear our prayer,

and in your merciful love, answer.

The Advent season reminds us of what used to be but is no more. Memories of

what was, and the fear of what may be, keep us from the joy of today. All around

are the sounds of celebration, but joy eludes us. Be near us this night.

Loving God, hear our prayer,

and in your merciful love, answer.

In this season of Advent waiting, we bring you those sorrows and longings too

deep for words. Hear the groans of our heart and tend us with your comfort and

grace.

Loving God, hear our prayer,

and in your merciful love, answer.

In the silence, we bring you our own words of need, our own words of hope.

 

(silence)

 

ln this dark night, let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives

rest in you. ln the quietness of this night, may your peace enfold us and all dear

to us, and all who have no peace. Keep us in the truth that the night is nearly

over; the day is almost here. We look expectantly to a new day, to new joys.

Loving God, hear our prayer,

and in your merciful love, answer.

 

Word of Hope: Psalm 33:22,lsaiah 40:31and Romans 15:13

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Lighting of Candles and Song of Peace: Silent Night

While we sing Silent Night,

ail who wish are invited forward to prayerfully light a candle -

in memory, in honor, in gratitude, in hope, in love-

inviting the love of Christ to dispel our darkness.

 

Passing of the Peace

Benediction: 1 Peter 5:10-11

And the God of atl grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after

you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you

strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

Joyce, thanks for sharing additional resources. 

Diane, what a loving service your congregation does for hurting people in your congregation and community. Because you do this every year, you may have developed some resources as a congregation. If you have, would you like to share them so that others can benefit from your work?

Thank you for posting this! We do a Blue Christmas service annually, and those who attend are always so appreciative.  These resources are helpful to give us some new ideas.  Thanks!

Also consider these resources from Reformed Worship

A Time to Weep--During Advent

Real Joy, Genuine Faith: Biblical Lament during Advent

Light for Our Wilderness: A Candlelight Service

From Lament to Praise: A New Year Eve's Journey Through the Psalms

RW subscribers can also access "Longest Night: A Service of Christmas Mourning" in the latest issue (RW 125). 

Also see: Lift Up Your Hearts #62 "An Advent Lament". 

Beautiful prayer. Thanks for sharing. 

The impression I get from the excerpts of The Disabled God is that Jesus' stigmata somehow still affect His ability to use His hands and feet as though He were limping along or would have difficulty using His hands to open a jar or drive a nail through a plank of wood.  Yet He doesn't seem to have had any difficulty breaking the bread when He was having dinner with the two disciples at Emmaus.  So,if Christ's scars don't impede His functioning after His resurrection, in what way is He disabled?

I second this! 

I so appreciate how your ministry walks the talk on accessibility! Thanks for modeling it for the rest of us learners. 

Mark,

I appreciate your approach.

"I sadly think the CRCNA and the Banner have contributed to the current polarization and divisiveness"

Truth has been spoken, even if it is not heard. 

I agree that we should reach out to show kindness to others, although that may be viewed antagonistically by someone who wants to be "left alone". In the case of the Las Vegas shooter it may be too soon to fully analyze him. While he preferred to gamble alone with a machine, he did have a "girlfriend" and may have hired female companionship shortly before his rampage. There is plenty of room for speculation.

This kind of evaluation is outside of my area of expertise, but I think that the current social divisiveness and dehumanizing may be a factor in motivating mass killers. I agree with MLK that we should judge people as individuals. Today, many judge others by their race, gender, political orientation, social status, age, and even which side of the border (U.S., Canada, or Mexico) they are on, and there is a general denigrating (or extolling) of those in one group or another.

All members of an ethnic group are not criminals, or at least untrustworthy. All members of another group are not "a blessing". All members of law enforcement are not racists. Thinking like this leads to dehumanizing others, and think what dehumanizing has done in the case of the unborn. Not long ago abortion was generally considered abhorrent, now many openly defend "woman's right to choose" (to kill her unborn child), which is "only a blob of tissue" (that has fingers and toes and a beating heart), but can be dismembered for body parts, and if I disagree I'm anti-woman and an evil person. The abortion industry is kind of a rampage, too, but the victims are killed one at a time.

Other mass killings have targeted specific groups of people. The Oklahoma City bombing was a protest against government. The 9/11 attack using airplanes was religiously-oriented, as have been attacks by cars, trucks, and guns in Europe, and the Orlando nightclub shootings. These were perpetrated by people who needed to be loved, but may not have been lonely persons. The killers were all people who simply thought other people should be killed. Now we hear of individuals who weren't concerned about the victims in Las Vegas because of their perceived political orientation. (Check Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 106-107 on that. Are they also killers by that definition?)

I sadly think the CRCNA and the Banner have contributed to the current polarization and divisiveness by official pronouncements and reporting. An example of this is the denominational reaction to the disastrous Charlottesville rally and protest of this summer. Instead of saying, "A plague on both your houses", as I did, the excesses of Antifa and other violent counter-protestors who showed up with masks and weapons were ignored. Freedom of speech applies to all, regardless of how despicable their message, but that does not include physical violence or destruction of property by either side. We can't complain only about misbehavior by the bad guys on the other side and ignore misbehavior by bad guys we agree with.

 

I'd suggest getting on the "Canada is superior" train isn't constructive.  The US Declaration of Independence isn't US law frankly.  The Articles of Confederation were adopted after the Declaration, which were scrapped for the US Consitution.  To quote the Declaration is rhetorically cute perhaps but that's about it.  The rant of "rugged American individualism" smacks more of Canadian snobbery than reality.

The US and Canada are quite different in quite a number of ways, the biggest of which I think is population (which then creates other differences).  Compared to the US, the whole of Canada is  a single state.  Indeed, I believe California bests Canada both in population and economic output.  All of which means that in general, Canadians may act more like a rural area than an urban area.  And indeed, the greater the population (the more urban), the less people know and interact with each other, and vice versa.  Which may explain why so few of these kinds of events (zero?) happen in farm country Iowa.

I'm not enough of an anthropologist to know if individualism is stronger in the US than Canada, but other Canadian friends have told me the same, so I'm inclined to believe you. One Canadian friend suggested that the difference is already highlighted in our founding documents, with the US Declaration of Independence highlighting the individualistic pursuit of rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and the Canadian Constitution Act of 1867 emphasizing the collective goals of "peace, order, and good goverment." 

For example, a CNN article quotes Sue Klebold, mother of a rampage killer, "I wish I had known then what I know now: that it was possible for everything to seem fine with him when it was not, and that behaviors I mistook as normal for a moody teenager were actually subtle signs of psychological deterioration. . . . I taught him how to protect himself from a host of dangers: lightning, snake bites, head injuries, skin cancer, smoking, drinking, sexually transmitted diseases, drug addiction, reckless driving, even carbon monoxide poisoning. It never occurred to me that the gravest danger -- to him and, as it turned out, to so many others -- might come from within. Most of us do not see suicidal thinking as the health threat that it is. We are not trained to identify it in others, to help others appropriately, or to respond in a healthy way if we have these feelings ourselves."

What about the myth of rugged individualism that pervades American culture?  You may not be conscious of it, but it motivates a lot of decisions people make.  At least from up here, north of the border, Americans seem a lot more individualistic than we Canadians are.

That's a good point, Doug. Social isolation is bad for one's health, in general, and Junger makes that point eloquently. Your point raises a clarification I should add. When mass shootings happen, folks look for someone to blame. By suggesting that showing love to people who are socially isolated, and that if this were done widely it might reduce the number of rampage killings, I'm not saying that the people around all the mass shooters are to blame for their murderous behavior. For all I know, many of them may have tried reaching out, but had all their efforts rebuffed. Still, Scripture's teaching is that when someone in our own lives rejects us, we need to keep on loving anyway. 

Great post Mark.  Thanks for not going down a political rabbit hole rant.

Indeed, I think it is clear, at least for those us us who are "older" (and have seen societal changes) that "social bonds" are generally much thinner than they used to be.  I perhaps don't think that "America emphasizes individualism" (as if there is a government ad campaign for it), but indeed, the political freedom we have, coupled with our wealth, allows anyone who may be so inclined (by personality disposition or otherwise) to become socially isolated.  Today, neighbors not knowing neighbors but "minding their own business" is normal, even if decades ago, not so much.

And this isolation can be deadly, in many ways, this LV shooting being perhaps only one particularly dreadful manifestation of that.

Thanks for this, Mark. I have been anxious after the last shooting and unsure how to proceed but these words helped. May we all refocus on God's call to love our neighbor. 

Jenny, thanks for the question. We'll get the info to you privately. Mark

Could you tell me if there is a Disability Advocate close to my home church. Hope Fellowship Courtice Ontario.

I can relate.  I've had people do that to me too, and I don't have a speech problem.  But I do have a disability, schizophrenia, and at one time, when I was taking a certain kind of anti-psychotics I guess I tended to look a bit wooden.  It's amazing how easily people tend to assume that because one has a disability, one is also--necessarily--intellectually deficient as well.  As if intellectual deficiency were an inevitable dimension of all disabilities. 

posted in: Indispensable

The Google 'recaptcha' tool we're using works on mobile and touchscreen devices. It usually shows the "I am not a robot" checkbox but will occasionally show swiggly text if it needs more verification. Both forms work with assistive devices like screen readers.

If you're not seeing it at all, no problem. That means verification isn't needed.

But if you're seeing an altogether different style of captcha (not labeled 'Recaptcha') then let me know which page it's appearing on and we'll check into it further.

Unfortunately, there is not a I am not a robot box! Also, a lot of people use tablets and phones which don't use a mouse. This trend will only increase in the future as the mouse is slowly disappearing. Thank You for your efforts. 

Thanks for the question, Lori. The Network uses Google's "recaptcha" service which has been built with accessibility in mind.  Its latest version reduces the need for people to decipher swiggly text (instead, clicking a much easier 'I am not a robot' box) and also offers an audio option instead of the visual option. You can read more about it in this accessibility review of the service.

We've hopefully switched all the captchas over to this newer tool but if we missed anywhere please let us know by emailing the page URL (and screenshot, if convenient) to network@crcna.org and we'll check into it.

Ken, yes, we were fortunate, and I thank God for that. I pray that God will sustain you in the challenges you are facing. Mark

Thank You , for your efforts and care for families with crisis! 

I am so touched to hear your story, the Lord carries us during those times! Unfortunately the system you refer too exists here too depending on your financial state! I am facing many health issues and cannot receive all the care I need because of our system of insurance! You were Fortunate to have the care you needed and that makes me thankful!

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