UU Accessibility and Equual Access
By Helen McFadyen
Equual Access was created to promote equality and access for Unitarian Universalist with disabilities, through coalition building, education, creation of policies and empowerment. People with disabilities, their families, friends and allies started this membership organization. I am a member, and await the outcome of the June election with my nomination standing for Equual Access President. We are dedicated to ensuring that our faith community warmly welcomes all people including those of us with disabilities. The very nature of the Equual Access organization, with members with widely disparate accessibility issues, dictates that there exist a mechanism for like-minded people to share ideas and experiences. This mechanism is a Caucus. A Caucus may form around a specific disability affinity such as blindness, deafness, and mental health. It is also possible to have local organizations working on accessibility issues. Groups may also be formed by members of a congregation or district who wish to work together on accessibility issues. In addition, two main committees stem from Equual Access:
Equual Access has a Policy Committee which reviews and analyzes existing policies and procedures, and recommends new ones to facilitate the full participation of all people with disabilities within our faith community as well as the larger world community. The Policy Committee also responds to questions and concerns from people across the Association about policies and procedures in Congregations and Districts. While it is not the intention of any Unitarian Universalist policy to exclude people with disabilities from participating in Congregational and Associational life, there may be a lack of policies that specify anti-ablest practices. Rev. F. Barbara Myers is chair (e-mail: email@example.com)
The Right Relations Committee assists and supports individuals with disabilities who believe they are unable to fully participate within our faith community as a result of ableism. (Abelism is defined as discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities.)
Equual Access works closely with the Rev. Devorah Greenstein, UUA Program Coordinator for the Office of Accessibility Concerns. The Office of Accessibility Concerns works to cultivate and institutionalize a theology of wholeness and justice. Working in partnership with religious professionals, and lay leaders, the goal is total accessibility so that people living with physical, sensory, emotional, and cognitive disabilities can fully participate in worship, study, service, and leadership. The Office of Accessibility Concerns develops educational materials, worship resources, and offers consultative services, working with UUA staff groups, districts, congregations, and individuals to eliminate attitudinal, architectural, and institutional barriers at every level. (Contact: 617) 948-6451 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Links to UUA web pages regarding accessibility:
UU Mental Health Ministry. This is a ministry focusing on mental health issues run by UU Community Minister The Rev. Barbara F. Meyers. Click here to open a new window for www.mpuuc.org/mentalhealth/.
There are many ways to help strengthen the effectiveness of Equual Access. If you are interested in donating your time and talents please contact Equual Access and tell us what you have in mind: email@example.com. If you are interested in local issues of disability, contact Helen McFadyen 902-454-4834 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Your financial contributions support to the work of the organization. Equual Access is a voluntary organization and requires gifts of time as well as monetary donations for it to work. Checks can be made payable to "UUA-Equual Access" and mailed to:
25 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108