For those with questions about process or intent of the items, detailed information is available in the Guidance for Completing the Annual Accessibility Audit for United Methodist Churches, available as a PDF or as a Microsoft Word document.
Here are downloadable versions of the Annual Accessibility Audit forms for United Methodist Churches:
- Annual Accessibility Audit (MS Word)
- Baltimore-Washington Conference training video for accessibility audits, and a shorter video at a local church showing the items surveyed
*Note: if you open the PDF in your web browser, it is recommended to save the PDF to your computer and then open with Acrobat Reader in order to fill it out.
Why conduct 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 one must hear and see well to participate fully. An audit lets your congregation examine accessibility in church facilities, procedures, and communication to help you make improvements in order to become truly welcoming communities for persons with disabilities and their families.
Per Paragraph 2533.6 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 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.”
What an audit entails
An accessibility audit is a list of items your congregation can use for self-assessment. 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 alert you to potential problems and possible solutions. The 59 questions guide you through the process and help you complete the report for Charge Conference preparation. The audit covers physical layout and facilities as well as communication, welcoming, and worship practices. Your congregation can prioritize modifications needed and set goals to work towards over time.
Accessible Church Badge Project
Started in 2019, the Disability-friendly and Accessible Church Badge Project recognizes churches which complete the Annual Accessibility Audit and work toward greater accessibility. The results of your audit indicate eligibility for a Bronze, Silver, or Gold badge for posting on your website, displaying on church doors, and including in your Find-A-Church site. Instructions for scoring are on page 4 of the Audit. If your score indicates that you have earned a badge, please click on the appropriate badge name below. This will open instructions and a form where you can certify that your congregation has completed the audit and committed to ongoing improvements in accessibility and accommodations. Please complete the form and return it to us for a password that gives you access to the badge.
If you believe you will score Gold, you may upload the Silver badge until your Audit is reviewed. Please read the instructions and contact your Annual Conference Disability Ministries committee to schedule a review or, if you have no committee participating in this project, please contact the Disability Ministries Committee at email@example.com.
- Bronze Badge (basic accessibility and accommodations): the church is welcoming and offers basic amenities needed for a person with a disability to participate, e.g. a place to park, a way to get into the building and sanctuary, a bathroom that is usable, etc. Most items at this level are low cost and can be easily provided, e.g. ushers and greeters trained in disability etiquette, website information on access. Click here to download Bronze Badge information (MS Word).
- Silver Badge (satisfactory accessibility and accommodations): 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 accessibility. Click here to download Silver Badge information (MS Word).
- Gold Badge (great accessibility and accommodations): the congregation has gone beyond ADA requirements and strives to provide an accessible space and appropriate accommodations. The church welcomes individuals with varying disabilities and their families through intentional measures and ministries. Continued improvement is planned based on needs of members and the community. This church would be a good choice to host conference events per ¶716.2 of the Book of Discipline, and might mentor other churches. Click here to download Gold Badge information (MS Word).
- A guide to the badge process for annual conference committees: MS Word or PDF.