In Britain, there are 9.5 million adults who have a recognised disability (Disability Rights Commision, 2006): that is over one-fifth of the adult population. A further 700,000 children have one or more disabilities.

95% of us will experience disability at some time during our life. If you became disabled and wanted to continue attending your church, how easy would that be? Paul, the apostle, wrote: "those parts that seem to be weaker are indispensable". If we believe that the Christian Gospel is for everyone, then we need to include disabled people in the life of our churches.

There is a wide range of disabilities, some obvious, many hidden. Installing a ramp for a wheelchair does not mean that your church is welcoming to all. Having a loop system installed is not enough if it is not in full working order and switched on for all services and meetings. Having a welcome team is not enough if they don't understand the needs of people with Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, or people with learning difficulties.

The biggest thing you can do to make your church more welcoming to people with disabilities is to ask them how you may help. And listen to their answers. You may not be able to change your church immediately – installing a ramp for wheelchair users may not be simple – but you might be able to change a flickering light bulb to help someone on the Autistic Spectrum feel more comfortable, or be able to help people with limited mobility get to the altar rail. Take people’s suggestions seriously, and be aware that no two people’s experiences, or disabilities, will be the same.

At a national level, the Church of England's Committee for Ministry of and Among Deaf and Disabled People (CMDDP) seeks to support and encourage the ministries of Deaf people, people with disabilities and the ministries of all those who work with them.

The CBC has produced a Guidance Note on churches and the Equality Act 2010, which you can download below, or click here for more information on the Equality Act. You can also download an accessibility audit form.

If you would like help making your church more friendly and welcoming towards people with disabilities, please contact your Archdeacon pending the appointment of a new Diocesan Officer for People with Disabilities (January 2018).

Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM)

EDCM is a consortium campaign run by four of the leading organisations working with disabled children and their families: Contact a Family, the Council for Disabled Children, Mencap and the Special Educational Consortium. Between them, the campaign partners represent over 770,000 disabled children and young people in the UK.

EDCM was established in September 2006 and continues to campaign to raise the political profile of disabled children and their families within central and local government. EDCM wants Westminster and local government to:

To find out more, visit the EDCM website.