Would you like to let your community know that your church building is accessible and that your congregation welcomes children and adults with disabilities?
You just need to contact the New England Conference Disability Committee after completing and scoring the Annual Accessibility Audit for United Methodist Churches.*
If you score 85% or better on the items at each level, you can receive a badge for use on your congregation’s website, display on church doors, inclusion on your Find-A-Church site, etc., so that people looking for an accessible faith community will see it and learn about your commitment (more below).
Some of the Annual Accessibility Audit items are based on meeting the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but others reflect best practices in hospitality for members, guests, and community groups using the building.
Many items are not costly – for example, observing an annual Disability Awareness Sunday, listing accessibility measures on the church website, having companions or “buddies” available for children or adults who need a little extra support to navigate worship or church school, etc.
More low-cost suggestions can be found in “Ideas for Becoming Intentionally Disability-Friendly on a Tight Budget.”
Copper Pre-Badge “Honorable Mention”: This level recognizes churches that try hard but have buildings that cannot be made fully accessible. They can earn a copper Honorable Mention symbol based on completing the annual audit, setting goals for the coming year, and holding a Disability Awareness Sunday during the prior two years.
Bronze Badge (basic accessibility and accommodations): This level recognizes that the church is welcoming and offers basic amenities needed for a person with a disability to participate, for example a place to park, a way to get into the building and sanctuary, an accessible bathroom, etc. Most items at this level are low cost and can be easily provided – for instance, ushers and greeters trained in disability etiquette, website information on access, etc.
Silver Badge (satisfactory accessibility and accommodations): This level recognizes that the church has many accessible features and offers accommodations for persons with a variety of disabilities, including hearing loss and limited vision. Silver level items may cost a bit more and take more effort to put in place. While some areas are not yet fully accessible and inclusive, it is clear that the congregation is working towards greater accessibility.
Gold Badge (great accessibility and accommodations): This level recognizes that the congregation has gone beyond ADA requirements and strives to provide an accessible space and appropriate accommodations, such as an accessible chancel and automatic door openers. The church welcomes individuals with varying disabilities and their families through intentional measures and ministries. Continued improvement is planned, based on the needs of members and the community. In addition to the Audit score, a site review is required for a Gold level badge. Continued improvement is planned, based on the needs of members and the community. In addition to the Audit score, a site review is required for a Gold level badge.