Audits are necessary
Why have an audit?
The Body of Christ cannot be complete until people of all abilities are accepted into communities of faith. A sign may say, “Welcome,” but the steps say, “You must be able to walk up stairs to enter.” A website or newspaper ad may say, “All are welcome,” but in reality you have to hear well and see well to participate fully. Before churches can become truly welcoming communities for persons with disabilities; church facilities, procedures, and the ways we communicate must be evaluated and made accessible.
Per Paragraph 2533.6 of The Book of Discipline 2016, “The board of trustees shall conduct or cause to be conducted an annual accessibility audit of their buildings, grounds, and facilities to discover and identify what physical, architectural, and communication barriers exist that impede the full participation of persons with disabilities and shall make plans and determine priorities of the elimination of all such barriers. It is highly encouraged that members of the congregation or from the community who have disabilities, who are family members of persons with disabilities, and who are builders or architects or rehabilitation professionals be involved in conducting the audit. The Accessibility Audit for churches shall be used in filling out the annual church and/or charge conference reports.” Please submit your completed audit to your state or conference disability concerns committee or to your DMC Jurisdictional Representative.
What an audit entails
An accessibility audit is a list of items your congregation can use to evaluate its accessibility. Conducting an audit does not guarantee compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, building codes, or other legal requirements, but it can be used to get a program underway and alert you to potential problems. This three page list (59 Questions) is intended for annual use as part of charge conference preparation. It covers physical layout and facilities as well as communication, welcoming, and worship practices.Structural modifications should be made in consultation with an architect or engineer. It’s a good idea to have some people with disabilities participate in the audit and review your plans. This helps ensure that they really work!