One example of disability inclusion is found in Mark 5:24–34, Luke 8:40–47, where Jesus encountered a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. The bleeding was her impairment, which would have left her seriously anaemic. By Jewish law she was considered to be unclean. The negative attitudes she would have faced would have been barriers to her participating in normal life.
As she reached out to touch the fringe of His garment, Jesus welcomed her presence. Through her encounter with Jesus, she was empowered and included in her society.
Jesus’ life emulated inclusion for all people, including those with disabilities.
Here are some practical ways that we can welcome and include people with disabilities and their families.
- Gain a greater understanding of the diversity and complexity of disabilities.
- Actively reach out to people with disabilities and their families.
- Support the capacity of people with disabilities in leadership and decision-making roles.
- Adjust programs and activities so that people with disabilities are fully included.
Identify and reduce barriers
- Reduce the attitudinal, physical, communication and institutional barriers for people in our ministry contexts.
- Include people with disabilities in ministry and mission activities.
- Consider additional ways to meet specific needs.
Plans and resources
- Develop a disability inclusion plan.
- Allocate budget for inclusion.
Raise awareness and educate.
- Allocate inclusion responsibility to staff and volunteers.
- Monitor and evaluate.
These are just some of the practical steps we can take in following Jesus’ example of loving, respecting, welcoming and including people with disabilities in our churches and Christian communities.