Church Office: Accessibility Guidelines

Each of us has gifts to offer. Volunteers are the life blood of any congregation, and there are many simple accommodations that will enable people with disabilities to contribute their time and energy as volunteers.

Make your office accessible so that people with disabilities can work in it—it's not a difficult task, but it is often overlooked. Look around and see what can be done. Accessibility in your office informs visitors and members, that your faith community welcomes people with disabilities.

Large-button telephones are useful. Telephones with volume control handsets are useful too. Both are easy to find. Telephone companies generally sell or lease these telephones.

Wheelchair-accessibility can be a challenge in cramped offices, but moving clutter out of the way and making wider paths can be helpful for everybody, including people using scooters and wheelchairs.

People come in all different shapes and sizes. Accessible workstations and storage cabinets take this into account.

Lighting is important—adding a desk lamp may make a big difference for a person with limited vision.

Computers can be modified. There is software and hardware to adjust to just about anybody's accessibility requirements. Your local independent living center most likely has computer experts who can help you with your computer settings.

Train staff and volunteers to be comfortable receiving and making relay operator telephone calls. All states have relay services, which enable people who are deaf and hearing to communicate by phone. A relay operator translates TTY (teletypewriter) to voice, and voice to TTY.

If your community has a large number of people who are deaf, then your office should have a TTY and staff and volunteers should be trained to use it.

Hire people with disabilities. If you have a job opening, get in touch with an employment agency for people with disabilities. Your local independent living center will have information about how you can recruit a person with a disability.

Have information available in the office about accessible public transportation, local services for people with hearing and vision problems, your independent living center, and other local agencies that provide services for people with disabilities.

Train staff and volunteers in proper disability etiquette so that they can be courteous and comfortable when people with disabilities call or visit the office.