How To Make Your Church Handicap Accessible
When you think of a church, most people believe their church is spacious and should be very handicap accessible. It is not until someone you know or yourself deals with a limiting factor, that you see the challenges facing people with a handicap.
Many businesses are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), religious organization are currently exempt from this law.
While churches may be exempt, this should not take away from the compassion we should have to make accommodations.
These accommodations do not only extend to visitors, but also employees of the church or school.
The ADA, requires that public spaces be accessible to individuals of all abilities. That can be pretty intimidating for any organisation to attempted to tackle.
You may want to consider how you can work within your budget, to ensure your facility is welcoming to all people, regardless of their mobility level.
10 Steps To Make Your House of Worship More Handicap Accessible
We have identified 6 steps your church can take to make your church property handicap accessible:
- Establish several handicap parking spaces closest to your main entrance. – One of the easiest and most cost effective way to show your church cares, is to assign parking spaces for those who have a handicap accessible need. This is helpful for individuals who use canes, walkers or wheelchairs or have other mobility issues. The ADA offers a free resource for organizations interested in restriping parking lots.
- Fix Potholes & Large Cracks – You may walk over and around these cracks and potholes located around your church, but that may not be an option for others. Consider fixing these issues right away.
- Add a wheelchair ramp. – While more costly, providing a permanent wheelchair ramp, allows for your church members easily gain access to your buildings. We recommend installing a cement ramp. Wood ramps deteriorate quickly and can cause additional barriers in the future. Consider reviewing your interior buildings as well and see if installing ramps inside is needed — for example, if people need to climb steps to reach the altar, look into adding a small ramp could make it more handicap accessible.
- Install automatic door openers. – Churches can have some pretty expensive and heavy doors. Even the most fit person may struggle to open these doors, imagine how individuals with mobility issues feel. Providing mobility access to your churches doors, can be a hug blessing and will improve your church in being handicap accessible. With a simple push of a button or an automatic door sensor, someone who was dependent on others, is now free to come and go on their own.
- Provide handicap seating in your house of worship. – Talk with those who are in need and find out where they would prefer to sit. Then remove a pew or relocate chairs to create a designated space or spaces, to allow your church to be accessible. Also ensure that is enough space for large wheelchairs to be able to freely move about.
- Does your church need a bathroom remodel to accommodate a wheelchair. – Older churches can present real challenges for people who require a wheelchair to move around. Bathrooms can be incredibly tight or inaccessible, which is difficult not only for those in a wheelchair, but also for people who use canes or walkers. Consider installing grab bars so people can use them to lower and raise themselves. A simple back injury, while may not be noticeable or as obvious as a wheelchair, could make it impossible to use your bathroom facilities without a grab bar.
- Consider installing an elevator. – Yes, this option is very expensive, but a valuable tool for those unable to go. up and down stairs on their own.
- Consider installing a chair lift for your stairs. – This can be an alternate option to an elevator. While not perfect, it is at least an attempt to make your church handicap accessible. Some chair lifts still require multiple people to operate, which can draw unwanted attention.
- Update your website. – Install a plugin into your wordpress site, to allow your church website to be visually accessible. We use a free plugin called AccessibleWP Toolbar. This allows your web users to make many different adjustments to be able to view our content more easily based on their specific disability.
- Remove Obvious Obstacles. – If you can see something is blocking a path or walkway, take the initiative to clear the path. Sometimes it is as simple as picking up toys that were left out by a sunday school class.
You've Taken The First Steps Now What?
Your church has implemented some or all of the recommend steps, to provide a handicap accessible environment. Once you have made these changes, look for other changes that could be made.
Consider forming a handicap accessible committee. Include those who may have mobility issues, people with a construction background and those individuals who have the gift of empathy. This will allow for a diverse group to bounce ideas off of each other.
Establish a dedicated budget where people can designate in their offering towards building improvements. Improving your church grounds may take a few years to complete, so don’t try and complete everything all at once.
Look at fundraising ideas for your church members to participate in. Involve your youth and college groups, so they can help donate some needed labor.
We Are Here To Help Your Church Become Handicap Accessible
We care about our clients and all of their church members and visitors.
The owner of Integrity Now Insurance Brokers is a disabled combat veteran and can relate to those who have disabilities. Those disabilities that are seen and those disabilities that we are unable to see.
We have a passion to help churches and can be a valuable resource to you, as your church explore risk management tools to improve your church.
As your church insurance brokers, we are here to with our expertise.
We help churches with obtain the following church insurance coverages: general liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, directors and officers insurance, insurance for smaller churches, abuse and molestation insurance, employment practice liability insurance, group health insurance for churches, church bus insurance, and more.
Give us a call or fill out our online church insurance quote form.