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Participants (The New UU)

The New UU is for adults of all ages and life stages who are new to Unitarian Universalism. Ideally, they will have attended a Unitarian Universalist congregation at least a few times. Anyone who has not yet committed to membership, or is relatively new to membership, will benefit from participation.

While participation should be voluntary, inviting people to participate should be an intentional process. Send personal invitations to people who have visited a congregation in recent months, particularly those who have attended worship more than two or three times.

Workshops are ideally suited to a group of six to twelve participants. Adaptations to some activities may be necessary for a larger group, including dividing into smaller groups led by individual leaders. With adaptations, the program will successfully accommodate up to 30 participants.

Integrating All Participants

Because you may not know the participants, be especially sensitive to disabilities or other special needs. Include a question about special needs on registration forms or sign-up sheets. Some activities include specific suggestions for adaptation. In all cases, keep these guidelines in mind:

Accessibility Guidelines for Workshop Presenters

  • Make a few large-print copies of all handouts available to participants.
  • Write clearly and use large letters on newsprint. Use black or brown markers for maximum visibility (red and green are difficult for some to see).
  • Make a printed copy of prepared newsprint pages to give anyone who requests it.
  • Face the group when you speak and urge others to do the same. Be aware of facial hair or hand gestures that may hamper lip-reading.
  • In a large space or with a large group of people, use a microphone for presentations and for questions and answers. If an activity will make it difficult for speakers to face listeners (e.g. a fishbowl activity, a forced-choice activity, a role play), pass a portable microphone from speaker to speaker.
  • When engaging in a brainstorm activity, repeat clearly any word or phrase generated by the group in addition to writing it on newsprint.
  • During small group work, make sure that each group is far enough from other groups to keep noise interference to a minimum.
  • Be sure aisles and doorways are clear during a workshop so people with mobility impairments or immediate needs can exit the room easily.
  • When re-arranging furniture for small groups or other purposes, ensure clear pathways between groups.
  • Enlist workshop participants to be vigilant about removing bags, books, coffee cups, and other obstacles from pathways.
  • Use the phrase, "Rise in body or spirit," rather than "Please stand."
  • Use language that puts the person first, rather than the disability (e.g., "a person who uses a wheelchair," rather than "a wheelchair-user"; "a child with dyslexia," rather than "a dyslexic child; "people with disabilities" rather than "the disabled.")
  • Refrain from asking people to read aloud. Instead of going around the room and asking each participant to read a part of something, ask for volunteers or read the material yourself.
  • Ask participants in advance about any food allergies. Add to your covenant an agreement that the group will avoid bringing problem foods for snacks or will always offer an alternative snack food.
  • Ask participants in advance about any allergies to scents or perfumes. If any participants have allergies or sensitivities, invite members of the group to refrain from wearing perfumes and add this agreement to your covenant.

The Unitarian Universalist Association website offers additional guidance for including persons with specific accessibility needs.

Keep in mind that participants likely come from a variety of religious and secular backgrounds and bring a variety of expectations to the program. In planning workshops, consider how individual participants are likely to respond to activities. Substituting Alternate Activities may be helpful in some situations.

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This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Friday, December 9, 2011.

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