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Markers of an Inclusive Congregation

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Markers of an Inclusive Congregation

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These slides were part of a discussion section at the 2012 Summer Institute on Disability and Theology. The focus of the discussion was what makes a congregation a place of welcome and hospitality for people with developmental disabilities and their families. For more information about this discussion, contact Erik Carter (erik.carter at vanderbilt.edu).

These slides were part of a discussion section at the 2012 Summer Institute on Disability and Theology. The focus of the discussion was what makes a congregation a place of welcome and hospitality for people with developmental disabilities and their families. For more information about this discussion, contact Erik Carter (erik.carter at vanderbilt.edu).

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Markers of an Inclusive Congregation

  1. 1. Better Together: Erik Carter Institute on Disability and Theology Inclusive Congregations Summer 2012
  2. 2. What exactly do we mean by an “inclusive congregation” or “inclusive religious education”? What are the markers or indicators of a “welcoming congregation”? For anyone? For people with particular disabilities? For their families? What supports are needed to start or sustain this? Are these even the right questions to pose?
  3. 3. Before Contemporary Special Education 1975 • 1 million children with disabilities excluded entirely from public school • Almost 4 million children with disabilities not receiving appropriate educational services • Related services rarely provided • Disabilities go undetected resulting in unsuccessful education experiences • Services often had to be found outside of system, at families expense
  4. 4. Some Influential Factors In Public Schools Parent Advocacy Professional Self- Advocacy Advocacy Current Practices Legislation Research Litigation
  5. 5. A National Picture of Inclusive Education Same Classrooms Both Classrooms Mostly Separate 5% Different School or Facility 18% 53% 24%
  6. 6. of 1975, this chapter has been successful in ensuring children with disabilities and the families of such children access to a free appropriate public education and in improving educational results for children with disabilities. Inclusion in the Public Schools (4) However, the implementation of this chapter has been impeded by low expectations, and an insufficient focus on applying replicable research on proven methods of teaching and learning for children with disabilities. (5) Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by— (A) having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible, in order to— (i) meet developmental goals and, to the maximum extent possible, the challenging expectations that have been established for all children; and (ii) be prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum extent possible; PUBLIC LAW 108–446—DEC. 3, 2004 118 STAT. 2647 (B) strengthening the role and responsibility of parents and ensuring that families of such Public Law 108–446 children have meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children at 108th Congress An Act To reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and for other pur- poses. Dec. 3, 2004 [H.R. 1350] school and at home; Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Individuals with Disabilities Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Education Improvement Act of 2004’’. 20 USC 1400 note. SEC. 2. ORGANIZATION OF THE ACT. (C) coordinating this chapter with other local, educational service agency, State, and This Act is organized into the following titles: Title I—Amendments to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. Title II—National Center for Special Education Research. Title III—Miscellaneous Provisions. Federal school improvement efforts, including improvement efforts under the Elementary and TITLE I—AMENDMENTS TO THE INDI- VIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDU- CATION ACT Secondary Education Act of 1965 [20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.], in order to ensure that such children SEC. 101. AMENDMENTS TO THE INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES EDU- CATION ACT. Parts A through D of the Individuals with Disabilities Edu- cation Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) are amended to read as follows: benefit from such efforts and that special education can become a service for such children ‘‘PART A—GENERAL PROVISIONS ‘‘SEC. 601. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS; FINDINGS; PURPOSES. ‘‘(a) SHORT TITLE.—This title may be cited as the ‘Individuals 20 USC 1400. with Disabilities Education Act’. rather than a place where such children are sent; ‘‘(b) TABLE OF CONTENTS.—The table of contents for this title is as follows: ‘‘Sec. ‘‘Sec. 601. 602. ‘‘PART A—GENERAL PROVISIONS Short title; table of contents; findings; purposes. Definitions. ‘‘Sec. 603. Office of Special Education Programs. ‘‘Sec. 604. Abrogation of State sovereign immunity. ‘‘Sec. 605. Acquisition of equipment; construction or alteration of facilities. ‘‘Sec. 606. Employment of individuals with disabilities. ‘‘Sec. 607. Requirements for prescribing regulations. ‘‘Sec. 608. State administration. ‘‘Sec. 609. Paperwork reduction. ‘‘Sec. 610. Freely associated states.
  7. 7. Is Inclusive Education Possible? “Yet, for every student who remains educationally segregated there are other students with similar attributes, abilities, and needs who are successfully included. This simple fact suggests that whether a student with a disability is meaningfully included may have less to do with his or her characteristics and more to do with the attitudes, skills, structure, and practices of the adults responsible for providing education.” Michael Giangreco
  8. 8. Important Elements of Are These Relevant in the Church? Inclusion In Schools
  9. 9. Some Important Elements 1.Presence 2.Shared space (least restrictive environment) 3.Natural proportions (age-appropriate programs) 4.Universal design principles (accessibility) 5.One person at a time (individualized planning) 6.Partial participation 7.Natural supports 8.Connections and relationships with peers (shared activities) 9.Valued roles 10.Prepared, committed, and caring educators 11.Parents as partners 12.Leaders communicating a compelling vision
  10. 10. 1. Presence
  11. 11. Are We Reaching All of Our Community? Temporarily Without Disabilities 100% With Disabilities 90% 80% 70% 60% ? 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Your Community Your Congregation
  12. 12. Children and Youth with Disabilities Learning Disabilities Speech/language Impairments Intellectual Disability 9% Emotional/behavioral Disorder 8% Other Health Impairment Other Disabilities 8% 47% 10% 19%
  13. 13. Are Invitations Being Extended?
  14. 14. Is Everyone Invited? • Passive Invitations • Active Invitations • Personal Invitations • But, are Invitations Actually Received?
  15. 15. Is Everyone Invited? • Passive Invitations • Active Invitations • Personal Invitations • But, are Invitations Actually Received?
  16. 16. Access Symbols Access for Individuals Who Symbol Audio Telephone Are Blind or Have Low for Accessibility Description Typewriter (TTY) Vision Volume Assistive Listening Sign Language Accessible Control Telephone Systems Interpretation Print Information Closed Opened Braille Symbol Captioning Captioning Symbol www.graphicartistsguild.org/resources/disability-access-symbols/
  17. 17. www.woodlawnunited.ca
  18. 18. http://www.interfaithdisability.org/worshiplink.php
  19. 19. http://www.interfaithdisability.org/worshiplink.php
  20. 20. http://www.interfaithdisability.org/worshiplink.php
  21. 21. Active Invitations • Visit or share information with... • Independent living centers • Group homes • Parent support groups • Residential facilities and nursing homes
  22. 22. 2. Shared Space “Least Restrictive Environment”
  23. 23. 3. “Natural” Proportions Age-Appropriate Activities
  24. 24. 4. Universal Design
  25. 25. Accessibility Checklists • Through the Roof Accessibility Checklist www.throughtheroof.com • Congregational Assessment Survey www.accessibilitynetwork.net • Congregational Audit of Disability Accessibility and Inclusion www.pcusa.org/phewa/pdc.htm • Accessibility Audit Guide www.crcna.org/pages/disability.cfm • Signs of an Open Door Parish www.ncpd.org
  26. 26. Other Aspects of Accessibility • Chemical sensitivities • Scent-free area • Food-free zones • Gluten-free bread and juice • Shush-free zone
  27. 27. 5. One Person at a Time Individualized Planning
  28. 28. Potential Questions for Parents/Family Members • In what ways would you like to see your child involved in this congregation? • What has been your child’s previous experience in other congregations? • Tell us about your child. • What does she enjoy doing? Not enjoy doing? • What are her gifts and talents? What does she do well? What does she love to “show off”? • How does she communicate with others? How does she express excitement? Frustration? • Tell us about your family. • Tell us about your child’s disability. How might her disability affect her involvement in congregational activities? • How can we best support the positive behavior of your child? • Are there things we should definitely avoid doing or saying? • Are there things we should absolutely do? • What does she find most rewarding? • What is the best way to respond when your child becomes upset?
  29. 29. Potential Questions for Parents/Family Members • How would you describe your child’s faith? What are the best ways to communicate spiritual truths? • Are there important goals that you have for your child as she participates in our program this year? As you look into the future? • What could we do to make our children’s program the most exciting time of the week for your child? • How would you like us to respond when other children or adults ask us about your child’s disability? • What do you see as the biggest challenges to including your child in congregational activities? • How can our congregation help support your family as you raise your child? Can we _________ [offer specific examples]? • Is there anything else that you would like us to know about your child or family?
  30. 30. One Example Support RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PROGRAMS DESIGNING INCLUSIVE Plan 101 RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PLAN FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH I. Overview We are excited that your child will be involved in our programs! We would like to ask you to provide the following information so that we can ensure that our pro- grams meet the needs of your child. Date: Name: Date of birth: Parents/Caregiver: Address: Telephone: E-mail: If absolutely necessary, where can we find you during the time we are with your child? K Main sanctuary K Classroom: K Other: What are some things that your child really enjoys doing?
  31. 31. How does your child communicate with others? What types of assistance (if any) will your child need with eating, getting around, or using the restroom? What behavioral challenges might we For each challenge, what are some encounter when interacting with your strategies for responding that seem child (if any)? to work well? • • • • • • • •
  32. 32. 6. Partial Participation
  33. 33. 7. Natural Supports
  34. 34. 8. Connections to Peers
  35. 35. 9. Valued Roles
  36. 36. 10. Prepared, Committed, and Caring Educators
  37. 37. 11. Parents as Partners
  38. 38. 12. Vision of Leaders
  39. 39. Inclusion Awareness Events www.throughtheroof.org www.pcusa.org/phewa www.inclusioninworship.org www.joniandfriends.org www.crcna.org/pages/disability www.blhs.org
  40. 40. Yet Another Framework
  41. 41. Ministry Apart From Ministry To Ministry Among Ministry With Ministry By
  42. 42. “four simple questions” • What are we doing well right now? • What could we be doing better? • What could we be doing differently? • What can we begin doing right now to get us started moving toward our goals/vision? Forest & Pearpoint (1997) www.fsrcdane.net/library/docs/FOURQUES.DOC
  43. 43. For More Information... Carter, E. W. (2007). Including people with disabilities in faith communities: A guide for service providers, families, and congregations. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

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  • It is primarily an issue of asking good questions. And creativity. \n\nAt my former church, I had the opportunity to sit down with some parents before the start of the ministry year over coffee to get to know them and to figure out how we might best support their child.\n\nThere are some examples of the types of questions that you might pose.\n
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  • This support might be evident from the pulpit based on whether and how a pastor talks about disability. \n\nSome congregations choose to set aside one or more services each year to recognize and celebrate and invite the contributions of people with disabilities, as well as to highlight the importance of a welcoming congregation. \n\nLots of ideas out there.\nResources for worship songs, special music, scripture passages, responsive readings, prayers, sermons, benedictions, and other awareness activity ideas. \n\nI’m not a huge fan of the disability awareness idea by itself...if it is an ending point. \n
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  • As a group within a congregation (or as a group of congregations or a denomination), how are we doing in relation to these indicators. Are PWD present among us?\n\nPerhaps we could discuss these tomorrow as a group?\n\nAs I talk, I hope you will hold these questions in your mind. I’ll share just a few of my observations. Simple...doesn’t mean easy to answer. Rather, simply to ask.\n\nQuestions we might consider. The work being done is considerable...but there is much still to do. And I certainly don’t want to imply that we aren’t doing important work of helping congregations, service systems, and communities move further along this journey.\n\nMarsha Forest and Jack Pearpoint designed The Four Questions exercise to help families, groups and organizations to get out of the trap of negative thinking. \n\nQuestion One (gets you out of the negative): What are we doing now that’s OK?”\nQuestion Two (leads to constant improvement): “What can we do better?”\nQuestion Three (leads to creativity): “What can we do differently?”\nQuestion Four (leads to first steps and action): “What can we do NOW - or within 48 hours?\n\nWe are a diverse group of people...who are doing this work in different fields and from different points of entry.\n\nSome simple questions. That you don’t need training to ask. \nYou’ll notice these are not necessarily disability-specific reflection questions. There may be many people in your community that you are not reaching. And they are good to ask about your hospitality.\n\nIt is more about being intentional than anything. Most solutions are easily found when we just recognize there is a need.\n\nUltimately, the answers are ones that you will have to brainstorm through as a congregation; to find individual solutions that fit the culture of your congregation. \n\nYou may discover that the answers are difficult to come by, and a more structured tool is helpful.\n
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