Sunday, September 15, 2013

EqUUal Access, UUA launch test of accessibility certification

The Accessibility Banner consists of a dancing chalice surrounded by six accessibility symbols: a wheelchair, signing hands, a brain, an ear, a Braille symbol and a person walking with a cane. The dancing figure was chosen because it symbolizes how we could all 'dance' if there were full accessibility for all. The surrounding double circles symbolize Unitarianism and Universalism. The heading words 'Accessible and Welcoming to All' are in an italic font to suggest or hint at the dancing theme.
EqUUal Access, in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Association, is embarking on a two-year field test of accessibility certification for member congregations.

“The program helps congregations learn about accessibility issues through worship, workshops, and other means. When the certification program has been completed a congregation can vote to be recognized by EqUUal Access.”

I was part of a policy committee that, in 2011, prepared Accessibility Guidelines for Unitarian Universalist Congregations.

More recently, I took a survey of people historically marginalized by perceptions about their ability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and race and/or ethnicity. My responses to the survey highlighted a continuing need to work toward welcoming, inclusive congregations.

The Multicultural Ministries 2013 Sharing Project survey asked if respondents had experienced “microagressions,” such as unintended slights, questions founded on untrue assumptions, unconscious ableist or discriminatory language or subtle alienation. I had to answer truthfully that I had.

The Disability/Ability Action Program begins with an assessment of how accessible a congregation is. The pilot test is underway in 10 congregations and certification is expected to be available to all congregations by 2015.

In the words of Rev. Barbara F. Meyers, chair of the EqUUal Access Policy Committee and coordinator of the certification effort:

“We are highlighting the religious and spiritual dimensions of becoming certified. Our certification program addresses changing hearts and living our faith, not just building ramps and installing hearing loops, as important as those actions are.” For information about the program, contact Meyers at

Interested UUs have until Oct. 31 to complete the Multicultural Ministries Sharing Project survey. Survey respondents will be randomly selected to join web-based focus groups that will begin conversations in October and continue through at least December.

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