History: Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM)
The Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) Certification Program was created by EqUUal Access. The intention was to have a congregational study and activity program similar in nature to the Welcoming Congregation program and Green Sanctuary programs, whereby congregations would be certified as AIM congregations in recognition of increasing their accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities.
With funding and support from the Unitarian Universalist, members of the Equual Access Policy Committee gathered in July 2012 for a three-day planning meeting in Boston. The committee created a set of objectives and an outline for the program. By early 2013, the core team, with the assistance of numerous volunteer editors and consultants, had created a working document with our vision for the program, the mechanics of the certification process, and a comprehensive collection of project activities and workshops. Eight pilot congregations were recruited and began a field test in June 2013.
This UU certification program was officially named Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) in 2015 and the certification program became generally available to all congregations in June 2015, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The AIM Coordinating Committee is made up of members of the original design team along with people who have been involved in implementing the program in their congregations.
Accessibility and Inclusion Ministries would like to acknowledge our pilot congregations, whose field test contributions were an essential part of bringing the program into being:
- First Parish, Bedford, MA
- First Parish, Cambridge, MA
- First Parish, Unitarian Universalist of Kingston, MA
- First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rochester, MN
- First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, MI
- Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, McHenry, IL
- Unitarian Universalist Church of Las Cruces, NM
- Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Buffalo, NY
Accessibility and Inclusion Ministries expresses sincere gratitude to the team members of the Dis/Ability Action Pilot Program for their flexibility, tenacity, and generous feedback. Their dedication and lived example of creating inclusive and welcoming communities of faith are an inspiration to us all.
AIM Certification Program Design Team
- Mark Bernstein
- Barbara Ceconi
- Suzanne Fast
- Lisa Ferris
- Rev. Barbara F. Meyers
- Michael Sallwasser
Dedication to Rachel Klein
Rachel Klein, a colleague in anti-oppression work and an insightful, thoughtful and dedicated advocate for people with disabilities, died in 2014. For the previous several years, she worked together with us on a team whose efforts created the AIM Program.
Rachel was a friend, a trusted collaborator and we miss her wisdom and distinct perspective that was invaluable to refining and clarifying our thinking and enabled us to be better advocates for and allies to people with disabilities. Her ideas helped shape this work.
Many people who did not know Rachel will be indebted to her when they enter congregations transformed by this certification program into beloved community. Rachel's professional and religious life was dedicated to making that manifest for us all.