Accessible Design

Lector in wheelchair reads from ambo designed for wheelchairIn this section is information relative to designing environments so that they are accessible to all. It includes Universal Design (U.D.) principles, parish design and links to U.D. information on other websites.

It also includes sample surveys on accessibility to environments in the parish and diocese.

Below are short statements of content from the different documents in this section.



Creating a Universally Designed Ministry

The importance of thoughtful and careful planning for any ministry cannot be overemphasized.

A universally designed ministry moves away from “special” and “separate,” rather creating a church community in which all members interact and participate in the various elements of a life of faith. 

Specifying different features for different groups of people will always cost more and require massive coordination and selective judgment about who should be accommodated and where. All of these impossible issues are eliminated by the universal design concept.

[T]he person assigned on a parish level to oversee this ministry, whether a parish advocate, parish council member or member of a disability concerns committee (hereafter referred to as “parish advocate”), would offer counsel and resources to parish staff and committees.

Foundational Principles of a Universally Designed Ministry

  • Is Christ-centered, and fits within the mission and ministerial scope of the diocese.
  • Has a broad vision in its coordination and planning.
  • Recognizes and values the dignity and uniqueness of each individual.
  • Fully includes people with disabilities in the life of the Community of Faith.
  • Calls each person forth to share in and contribute to the celebrations and obligations of the faith.
  • Acknowledges disability and functional limitations as a common and prevalent part of the living process.
  • Identifies human vulnerability as a catalyst in bringing people together and renewing the community.
  • Does not generalize about disabilities, recognizing every person's experience of disability, skills, and coping mechanisms as unique.
  • Appreciates accessibility features and inclusion as of mutual benefit to the entire community.
  • Is open to change and growth.

Diocese: Universal Design


Parish: Universal Design

Components Eseential to an Effective Ministry

  • Provides access to the pastor
  • Clearly identifies placement of ministry within the parish structure
  • Is committed to the ministry at all levels
  • Respects the discrete levels at which the ministry is carried out
  • Provides sufficient personnel and financial resources
  • Utilizes competent personnel
  • Delineates clear role descriptions and lines of authority, and provides adequate supervision
  • Creates opportunities for people with disabilities to meaningfully participate
  • Incorporates a disability perspective into all areas of the faith community and facilitates collaboration
  • Keeps abreast of current and emerging social policy issues, trends, and threats which impact on the life and options of people with disabilities and their families


Links: Universal Design

An Equivalent Experience

Practical Tips

Worship and Technology

ADA Standards

The Center for Universal Design

Creating Access Plan

Assessing Needs and Access Options

Focusing on Universal Design

Developing An Access Plan


Common Sense Approaches

 Components of an Access Plan

Identifying and Implementing Renovations

Creating Program Access

Developing Policy Statements

Access Surveys