Uplift Access: Uplifting Accessibility In and Beyond Unitarian Universalism

UPLIFT Access - April 2024

By Gretchen Maune

Dear Friends,

It’s finally feeling like Spring here in Columbia. I write this amidst the bright song of birds connecting with their beloved babies and mates outside my window. I can’t see the blooms on the trees and the fresh cut grass in the courtyard, but their rich, green fragrance makes them visible to me just the same. All this beauty, the rebirth all around me, makes it easy to feel like I’m lost in one of Mary Oliver’s poems. However, as an autistic person, the lovely but intense sensations can leave me feeling overwhelmed at times. Since discovering my neurodivergence five years ago, I’ve been able to embrace more fully who I am, showing love and acceptance to my whole self and its needs.

13 years ago, autistic advocates established April as Autism Acceptance Month. In their 2021 article, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network explained that the month’s purpose is “to change the conversation around autism, shifting it away from stigmatizing “autism awareness” language that presents autism as a threat to be countered with vigilance. Ten years ago, when Autism Acceptance Month started, advocacy organizations run by non-autistic people spoke openly about working towards a future in which “autism is a word for the history books.” In contrast, autism acceptance emphasizes that autistic people belong — that we deserve welcoming communities, inclusive schools and workplaces, and equal opportunities.”

As one of a growing number of autistics discovering their condition as adults, I’ve been doing what I can to change the stigma associated with the neurotype. At work, at church, and with my friends, I try to speak my truth and resist putting on my mask. This resistance is tough, and sometimes I still shy away from showing my authentic self. I’m grateful this month of acceptance, not change, exists, and that more people are learning about all the faces, all of the experiences, autism resembles. As our communities move toward a greater understanding and acceptance of autism, more of us will find relief in being able to leave off our neurotypical masks.

UPLIFT Access Monthly Accessibility Resource Webinars

Join friends, colleagues, and collaborators, Ayanna Kafi (they/them) and Gretchen Maune (she/they) for a conversation about life, neurotype, intersecting identities, religious professionalism, and how this all lands in our embodied experience.

Including All Neurotypes:A Conversation with Ayanna Kafi & Gretchen Maune

Thursday, April 25th
12pm-1:30 ET / 11am CT / 10am MT / 9am PT 

UPLIFT Access Monthly Webinar Registration
UPLIFT Access Webinar - Previous Recordings

Learn more about Autism:
The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) is an excellent source of information and resources on language, understanding the autistic experience, parenting, and more!

Check out their free, online book, “Welcome to the Autistic Community.”

The “Supporting Neurodivergence in our Congregations” bundle, is an excellent collection of resources by the UU Minister’s Association to help you increase inclusivity in your church community.


The EqUUal Access Carolyn Cartland 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.

EqUUal Acess has more informaiton on the Sermon Contest Entry Form

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 .