From our member, Louise McKown:
The Unitarian Universalist Association conducts disability awareness trainings by asking their ministers if they have a disability or are “temporarily able-bodied,” knowing that unless people die suddenly, more than likely, they will experience disability in their lifetime. Therefore, when the new Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church was built, it incorporated a number of accessible features to include everyone.
The parking lot doesn’t have a need for curb cuts or ramps because parking is on the same level as its sidewalks. Ample accessible parking spaces for wheelchair users who need extra wide aisles to unload from vans are available, as well as for those who have parking permits for accessible spaces. Push button doors are at the sanctuary and social hall entrances, and even at both the men’s and women’s restrooms. A unisex restroom also provides accessible facilities and an accessible shower.
For those with low vision or who are hard of hearing, large print hymnals and assisted listening devices are available near the entrance to the sanctuary. Because the church has wooden pews, padded cushions are also available there.
The memorial garden has a pathway that is smooth and has benches for those who wish to rest awhile as they remember those who have died. But best of all, and what is lacking in a lot of churches, is that this church has a ramp to the chancel so anyone can sing in our choir and participate on that level in the service.
ORUUC is truly a congregation that welcomes people with disabilities, even those who have unseen disabilities, and makes it as stress-free as possible to participate in church activities. We always welcome additional ideas for better inclusion.