Uplift Access: Uplifting Accessibility In and Beyond Unitarian Universalism

UPLIFT Access: Happy New Year!

UPLIFT Access Logo with green border that include disability pride flag, which has a black background and diagonal color of green, blue, white, yellow, and red. On the right side of the flag is the black UUA chalice logo and UPLIFT Access (green). Underneath is the tagline, "Uplifting Accessibility In and Beyond Unitarian Universalism."

UPLIFT Access logo with a green border that includes the disability pride flag colors of red, yellow, white, blue, and green that overlay a black background on the left. The right side has a black UUA chalice logo next to the words UPLIFT Access, Uplifting Accessibility in and beyond Unitarian Universalism.

By Gretchen Maune

Dear Friends,

Though the new year brings with it the space for fresh opportunities and change, some long-standing systems of oppression are alive and well in our country. In early January, I read about an ableist incident in a movie theater. While situations like these, sadly, are nothing new to disabled people, the abled majority rarely hears about their painful, sometimes mortifying, experiences. This time around, Rev. Dr. WIlliam J. Barber II, the victim of the ableism, took to the pulpit to tell his story.

On December 26, the civil rights activist took his beloved mother to see “The Color Purple” for a birthday celebration, only to have his own civil rights violated under Title 3 of the ADA. Barber took his mother to the Greenville, NC AMC theater for a matinee showing, in order to avoid the crowds. However, the protestant bishop, with his mobility devices, was told by armed security guards that he was not allowed to sit in the ADA section, accusing him of trespassing. After being told by the three armed guards that he should come back with a doctor’s note, he was forced to leave the theater, with his elderly mother still inside.

Rev. Barber said he feels that this was not about race, but disability rights. Not wanting this to happen to himself or any other disabled person ever again, he has taken action, and is in communications with the apologetic president of AMC. When asked if he accepted the CEO’s apology, Barber said, “the apology’s already been accepted. The apology is the beginning. The shift in policy change is the final.”

As UUs, our eighth principle calls us to fight for systemic change against oppression. While we don’t all have the platform of Rev. Dr. William Barber, we can all advocate in our own way.

May your new year be full of opportunities to affect change and excellent movie experiences!

With Gratitude,

Gretchen Maune (she/they)
Accessibility Resources Coordinator

As Accessibility Resources Coordinator, Gretchen provides virtual resources for Unitarian Universalist congregational and organizational leaders to create spaces, events, programs and communities which are accessible and inclusive to disabled participants. Learn more about Gretchen.

UPLIFT Access Monthly Resource Webinars

Our loving faith calls us to honor the inherit rights and dignity of all people and to fight forms of oppression wherever we find it. However, disabled people (who make up 26% of the population) regularly find ourselves pushed to the margins, being denied our needs, and not receiving the radical welcome UU’s aspire to provide to all members.

Lay leaders, religious professionals, and allies are invited to join us for our monthly lunchtime webinars where you can learn how to be more accessible and inclusive of your congregation’s disabled members and visitors.

Disability Justice

Thursday, February 22nd

12pm-1:30 ET / 11am CT / 10am MT / 9am PT

UPLIFT Access Monthly Webinar Registration

“A Disability Justice framework understands that all bodies are unique and essential, that all bodies have strengths and needs that must be met.” - Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice

Louis Braille Day Is January 4th

Louis Braille Day is celebrated every year on January 4th. Louis Braille is the creator of the written medium many blind people use to read and write. Braille is a written medium for many of the world’s languages. I am one of the countless people who utilize Braille regularly.

I grew up with perfect vision. I began losing my vision during the latter years of elementary school due to a genetic condition. I had a difficult time learning Braille. I did not attend a school for blind and low-vision students because I wanted to remain in classes with my friends. It did not help when my special education teacher told me to read Braille with my eyes. Eventually, I was able to feel the different configurations for each character in Braille.

Braille has made a significant impact on my life. It has allowed me to continue reading, even when my eyes struggle to read print. I began reading Braille in a variety of contexts, such as solving mathematics problems and being a Worship Associate at two Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations. With Braille, I was able to sing in the choir and read the Story for All Ages, where I shared about what led me to attend South Valley. Reading Braille is important when I attend services at UU congregations, as it allows me to know what is in the Order of Service and to read the lyrics for hymns. It also allows me to read how names are spelled.

Reading Braille was also significant when South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society members in Cottonwood Heights, Utah asked me to organize and facilitate a Transgender Day of Remembrance service. We assigned roles, planned the music, and organized the reading of the names of the trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive people we lost. We ensured Braille and large print copies of the names were available to people who needed them.

Being included in the life of my congregation left a strong impression on me because of this important accessibility resource that I introduced, and not because of my disability. Braille has made a tremendous impact on my life within Unitarian Universalism and beyond.

May these words be a blessing to both braille users and non-users alike:

May the bumps underneath your fingertips bring you possibility,

May the creative ways we explore be shared for ourselves and with each other,

May the joy of reading and connection uplift you,

And may Braille be of use to whoever wants it.


Kaden Colton
Pronouns: No Pronouns

Kaden Colton is a member of both the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis and the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis and serves as an EqUUal Access board member. Kaden is a former Braille Instructor at BLIND, Inc. and is a seminary student at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities majoring in Interreligious Chaplaincy and Ethics and Justice. Kaden volunteers with local community groups and has worked with the American Sign Language Club and Students for Queer Arts, Resistance, and Education. 

EQUUAL Access Carolyn Cartland Sermon Award Contest

The EqUUal Access Carolyn Cortland Sermon Award Contest is accepting sermons on disability-related themes and topics.
The entry deadline is May 1, 2024.

A cash prize of $500 will be awarded and presented as the online annual celebration!


  • The sermon must be an original work on a disability theme or topic
  • The sermon must be preached between May 1 and April 30 of the current contest year.
  • Entries (sermon text and entry cover information) must be submitted before midnight on May 1st.
  • This sermon contest is open to all lay or religious professional Unitarian Universalists.

CONSENT: In entering the contest, the author grants permission for EqUUal Access to publicly post and publicize their sermon text, name, and photo. Authors retain copyright to their work.

Read more about the Sermon Contest Entry Infformation.

Accessible Publications from Skinner House


Skinner House will have a channel on Bookshare in the near future!

Accessible versions of Skinner House's most recent publications and all new ones going forward will be available to Bookshare subscribers.

 Skinner House Audiobooks NOW AVAILABLE

 through Libro.fm and other channels and will continue to make audiobooks of most new Skinner House publications!

About the Author

Gretchen Maune

As Accessiblity Resources Coordinator, Gretchen will provide virtual resources for Unitarian Universalist congregational and organizational leaders to create spaces, events, programs and communities which are accessible and inclusive to disabled participants.

For more information contact .