The resources below answer the most frequently asked questions the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) receives on this topic. We invite you to contact us at access @ uua.org if you have questions or if you need further assistance.
Equual Access promotes equality and access for Unitarian Universalists (UUs) with disabilities. People with disabilities, our families, friends, and allies started this membership organization dedicated to ensuring that our faith community warmly welcomes all people including those of us with disabilities (from the Equual Access website).
Read their reflection paper "Mental Health Issues and Recommendations" (PDF, 30 pages).
The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 defines a disability as a "...physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity." Examples of major life activities include seeing, hearing, walking, thinking, breathing, speaking, and learning, among many others. There are visible disabilities in which a physical disability is obvious (someone is using a wheelchair, canes, or an oxygen tank, for example) or invisible (someone has a learning, behavior, or psychiatric disability, diabetes, heart disease, chemical sensitivities, or epilepsy, among many others).
Nearly 50 million people (1 in 5 of the U.S. population) in the United States have a disability. As the baby boomer population ages, the numbers are expected to climb to 100 million or 40 percent of the population. People of all ages, races, sexual orientations, cultures, economic and social backgrounds, and religions may be born with or acquire a disability at any point in their life. Fewer than 15% of disabilities occur at birth; over 85% are acquired over a lifetime as a result of illness, accident, war, trauma, age, or genetics, just to name a few of the causes of disability.
Many people with disabilities are able to use devices to reduce the limitations resulting from their disability; wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids, language boards, computers, medications and insulin, and oxygen tanks all increase the level of freedom and independence for people with mobility, speech, systemic, and breathing limitations. For many people with invisible or learning, behavioral, or psychiatric disabilities, social and environmental "devices" may increase freedom and independence such as assignment of a buddy, sound systems, proper lighting, social cueing, and use of non-toxic cleaning products.
These are only a few examples. For everyone, though, whether having a disability or not, the environment in which we live, learn, play, sing, work, and meditate, reflect, and pray must feel "welcome" in order for everyone to grow and thrive.
For more information contact access @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Thursday, March 6, 2014.
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