The All Abilities Team conducted a formal review of Chapel accessibility in 2022. Building access was evaluated and documented according to technical, measurable, ADA compliance guidelines as well as actual Mass attendance and participation with individuals of various abilities.
Last year, July was designated as the Bellarmine outreach collection for the All-Abilities social mission team. The team selected Marjorie Book Continuing Education (MBCE). MBCE has been our All-Abilities team partners for 2 years.
MBCE has been active for over 30 years – about the same number of years since the ADA was signed. Their programing includes classes, service projects (local and out of town), and theatrical performances. Their mission is very similar to the All-Abilities team, which targets the Bellarmine community. With their help and participation, we have sponsored events for individuals with and without disabilities every other month for over two years.
To help increase parishioner awareness of MBCE and the efforts of the Bellarmine All Abilities Team, we sponsored the play A Tale of Two Cities in 2022 and Shakespeare’s King John in 2023.
- Bonfire/Jam Session – Xavier University Husman Yard
- Friday 10/6/23 @ 7 – 9 p.m.
- Holiday Outing – Krohn Conservatory
- Saturday 12/9/23 @ 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
On July 26th, 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Because of the date the ADA was signed into law and because the ADA has been a sea change for the disability community, July was designated Disability Pride Month although this designation is not widely known or celebrated.
The first Disability Pride Parade was held in Chicago in 2004. Today, Disability Pride Parades have been held in locations across the United States, including Silicon Valley/Santa Clara County, Chicago, Philadelphia, Colorado Springs, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, New Jersey, and Columbus. Around the world celebrations take place in locations such as South Korea, Norway, and the U.K
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Inside this site is a wealth of information, including overview documents, handouts, video training and a wide variety of other resources, under the heading of That Every Ability May Belong. Most materials were developed by the Archdiocese of Chicago under the guidance of Cardinal Bernardin and Fr. Henri Nouwen. Included is a section on a “Team Belonging month” celebration including programs, handouts, videos and communications as well as liturgy suggestions, homily tips and even suggested hymns – with an All-Abilities focus.
- Video Training – Pathways.org
- Cardinal Bernardin on How to Open Hearts and Minds to People With Differences in Your House of Faith – YouTube
- Cardinal Bernardin & Father Henri Nouwen Explain How Inclusion in Worship Begins with Affirmation – YouTube
- Cardinal Bernardin and Henri Nouwen Teach About Respectful Communication – YouTube
- Cardinal Bernardin and Father Henri Nouwen Share Ways to Build Accessibility – YouTube
- Henri Nouwen’s “The Vulnerable Journey” Introduction and Chapter 1: The Vision of God – YouTube
- Henri Nouwen’s “The Vulnerable Journey” Chapter 2: The Way of Jesus – YouTube
- Henri Nouwen’s “The Vulnerable Journey” Chapter 3: The Work of the Spirit – YouTube
Everyone has the right to be welcomed in the House of God of their choice. Disability should never be a barrier to inclusion. That All May Worship is a guide to transform congregations of all faiths into places where children and adults with disabilities are welcomed, honored, and appreciated for the gifts they bring. This document provides a wealth of actionable information on working with many specific disabilities in a church setting.
Office for Persons with Disabilities serves the Archdiocese of Cincinnati by working to create a culture of inclusion and meaningful participation for persons with disabilities and their families.
LADD provides the dignity of adulthood through housing, health and wellness, day programs, employment, and advocacy.
Marjorie Book Continuing Education brings teenagers and adults with and without disabilities together for continuing education classes, service, learning projects and theatrical productions.
Marjorie Book believes that teenagers and adults of various abilities can benefit from coming together for activities of common interest and sharing their gifts and strengths.
May We Help consists of 75 volunteer engineers, industrial designers, inventors, welders, woodworkers, seamstresses, doctors, occupational and physical therapists who come together to design, build and deliver custom devices at no cost to hundreds of recipients every year.
Starfire is an organization empowering leaders to build community and inclusion alongside people with developmental disabilities by increasing social connectivity through meaningful relationships and by working to remove barriers to opportunities in the community where people can be known for their gifts, not their disability.
- Ken Anderson Alliance – Includes Melodic Connections Music Therapy Group
Ken Anderson Alliance is a collaborative community where individuals are given a diversity of choice that fosters independence and growth. Our work helps provide opportunities to volunteer for adults with disabilities, fundraising to help build housing for adults with disabilities and support to provide jobs skills training for adults with disabilities.
NAMI of Southwest Ohio is an organization of families, friends and individuals whose lives have been affected by mental illness. Together, we advocate for better lives for those individuals who have a mental illness.
Mental Health America of Northern Kentucky and Southwest Ohio is dedicated to promoting mental health and working to prevent mental and substance use disorders through education, advocacy, and service.
NCPD helps persons with disabilities and their families find a home in the Church, and informs parishes of the many strategies, big and small, that will help make their parishes more accessible.
Mental Health America (MHA)’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal.
The American Association of People with Disabilities works to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As a national disability-led and cross-disability rights organization, AAPD advocates for full civil rights for over 60 million Americans with disabilities by promoting equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation.
The Xavier Society for the Blind provides no charge braille materials to patrons of all ages, both lay and religious, to learn about, develop and practice their Faith. Over 1,000 braille titles, ranging from the New American Bible to biographies of saints, theological dissertations and even contemporary titles by popular authors like Matthew Kelly and Father James Martin, SJ are available. A periodical compilation, The Catholic Review, is distributed three times a year and includes articles from America magazine, Our Sunday Visitor, Catholic Digest and others.
Additional Local organizations
- Alternative Baseball Cincinnati
- American Council of the Blind of Ohio, Greater Cincinnati Chapter
- Autism Connections
- Cincinnati State Interpreter Training Program
- Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati
- Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services
- Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly
- University of Cincinnati – Center for Community Engagement
- University of Cincinnati Transition and Access Program (TAP)
- Vulcan’s Forge Performing Arts Collaborative
Explains ADA requirements for businesses/organizations in a brief 10-lesson online course
Here is a practical guide to the ADA and would apply to churches as well on a voluntary basis. This guide was used in our review of chapel accessibility.
UN Programs on Disabilities and Inclusion, Initiated in 1992.
December 3rd is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities | United Nations
Here is a link to the lengthy UN Inclusion Strategy:
They also have a very “Easy to Read” version of the strategy using pictographs (writing with symbols). This is an excellent approach for individuals with intellectual challenges.
World Health Organization (WHO) International Classification of Functionality, Disability and Health (ICF)
Classification passed by member states in 2001. It is based on the same foundation as and shares extension codes with the International Classification of Diseases (ICD)
No list of books, articles and web resources could scratch the surface of the wealth of information available and discoverable using simple Google searches. Listed below is a sampling of interesting reference information.
Reflections from a Different Journey: What Adults with Disabilities Wish All Parents Knew by John Kemp with a forward by Marlee Matlin
Most parents of children with disabilities lack personal experience with adults with disabilities. These reflections include forty essays written by successful adult role models who share what it is like to grow up with a disability
Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality by Thomas E. Reynolds
As parents of a son with disabilities, Reynolds and his wife know what it’s like to be misunderstood by a church community. Reynolds draws upon that personal experience and a diverse body of literature to empower churches and individuals to foster deeper hospitality toward persons with disabilities.
Reynolds argues that the Christian story is one of strength coming from weakness, of wholeness emerging from brokenness, and of power in vulnerability
Much of the church has forgotten that we worship a disabled God whose wounds survived resurrection, says Amy Kenny. In My Body Is Not a Prayer Request, she exposes unintentional ableism in the church and casts a new imagination for Christian communities to engage disability justice. Kenny shows that it is time for the church to start treating disabled people as full members of the body of Christ who have much more to offer than a miraculous cure narrative and to begin learning from their embodied experiences.
The Paterson diocese’s Department for Persons with Disabilities “is the largest Catholic organization in the United States that provides care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” according to a department media release. This article provides the history of the diocese’s efforts and success serving people with disabilities in a Catholic tradition
And not just Disney – theme park Certified Autism Centers and what that means:
Every attraction at each resort has been rated for its level of stimulation on each of the five senses: hearing, sight, smell, touch and taste. Guests can find sensory guides with these ratings online, printed in the parks and posted outside attractions.
To qualify for certification, at least 80% of staff must by trained and certified by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), which is guided by both autistic self-advocates and other experts.
Fortunately, it is not just Disney.
Beatitudes for Persons with Special Needs:
- BLESSED ARE YOU who take time to listen to difficult speech, for you help us to know that if we persevere, we can be understood.
- BLESSED ARE YOU who walk with us in public places, and ignore the stares of strangers, for in your friendship we feel good to be ourselves.
- BLESSED ARE YOU who never bid us to “hurry up” and, more blessed, you who do not snatch our tasks from our hands to do them for us, for often we need time rather than help.
- BLESSED ARE YOU who stand beside us as we enter new and untried ventures, for our unsureness will be outweighed by the times when we surprise ourselves and you.
- BLESSED ARE YOU who ask for our help and realize our giftedness for our greatest need is to be needed.
- BLESSED ARE YOU who help us with the graciousness of Christ, for often we need the help we cannot ask for.
- BLESSED ARE YOU when, by all things, you assure us that what makes us individuals is not our particular disability or difficulty but our beautiful God-given personhood which no handicapping condition can confine.
- REJOICE AND BE EXCEEDINGLY GLAD for your understanding and love have opened doors for us to enjoy life to the fullest and you have helped us believe in ourselves as valued and gifted people.
Petitions for Recognition and Celebration of People of All Abilities:
- For people of all abilities, teach us mutual respect and bind us together in Your love and peace
- For people with vision difficulties, help us see with Your eyes
- For people with mobility challenges, help us walk together
- For people with hearing difficulties, teach us to listen to Your word
- For people with mental health and developmental disabilities, help us grow in Your wisdom and patience
- For those with chronic illnesses, grant us relief from suffering
- For families, friends and caregivers who serve the differently abled, grant them Your grace and support
- God, Creator of all in your image and likeness, help us to recognize that each of us has abilities and each of us has limitations. Open our hearts, minds, and doors to the gifts of every person. Help us to become a truly welcoming community where all can find a place at Your Table