#913 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 22 Jun 2014.
The latest National Church Life Survey, taken in 2011, included questions on disability for church leaders and attenders. Leaders were asked, for example, how their church catered for disability-related needs, and attenders were asked whether they considered their church to be inclusive of disability.
One of the surprise findings from the NCLS survey was that the relative number of people identifying as disabled among churchgoers was much lower than in the wider community, possibly implying that disability is marginalised in the church.
Heath McSolvin, director of communications at Christian Blind Mission, said churches may consider themselves ‘inclusive’ and ‘open’ to people with disabilities, but what inclusion looks like to someone without a disability and what it should look like were two very different things.
Churches have good intentions, but there is work to be done in matching those good intentions with what disabled people actually need and want.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.