100 East Eighth St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
1520 South Main Street
Dayton, OH 45409
(937) 281-4128 voice
“All members of the Body of Christ are uniquely called by God by virtue of their Baptism. In light of this call, the Church seeks to support all in their growth in holiness, and to encourage all in their vocations. Participating in, and being nourished by, the grace of the sacraments is essential to this growth in holiness. Catholic adults and children with disabilities, and their families, earnestly desire full and meaningful participation in the sacramental life of the Church.
It is essential that all forms of the liturgy be completely accessible to persons with disabilities, since these forms are the essence of the spiritual tie that binds the Christian community together. To exclude members of the parish from these celebrations of the life of the Church, even by passive omission, is to deny the reality of that community. Accessibility involves far more than physical alterations to parish buildings. Realistic provision must be made for Catholics with disabilities to participate fully in the Eucharist and other liturgical celebrations.”
~ Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities (Revised Edition) June 2017
Autism Spectrum Disorder: Today, Catholics across the United States are becoming more aware of ASD which has led to effective teaching styles, accommodations, and education in parishes across the United States. Adults with ASD are writing about their experiences in ministry and Catholic publishers are creating faith formation curriculum that engages different learning needs. Behavior Analysts are working with diocesan directors to help individuals with ASD meaningfully participate across the life-span in Liturgy, and Catholic parents are sharing their input on the needs of individuals more profoundly affected by ASD.
Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities: Developmental disabilities are impairments in physical, learning, language, or behavior that begin during the developmental stage and typically last throughout a person’s lifespan (CDC). An example of a developmental disability is cerebral palsy, which is a motor disability that prevents a person’s ability to move their muscles (CDC). Developmental disabilities include–but are not limited to–intellectual disabilities which limit a person’s adaptive functioning in conceptual, practical, and social domains (APA). Intellectual disabilities include autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It is important for parishes and families to not make assumptions about the capabilities of a person with a developmental or intellectual disability since the capabilities and limitations of each person with these conditions varies widely.
Today, there are accommodations that help individuals who are blind or who have low vision meaningfully participate in the life of the Church as students, clergy members, pastoral leaders, teachers, and more. Parishes can help to promote the meaningful participation of these individuals by offering parish materials in braille, in large print, and in electronic format. It is important to be aware of the accommodations available for people who are blind or who have low vision so that parishes can benefit from the vocations of more individuals.
Deafness & Deaf Culture: Across all age groups, approximately 600,000 people in the United States are Deaf (Gallaudet University). Many people do not consider Deafness to be a disability. Since Deaf people have their own language with distinctive cultural and linguistic features, many Deaf people consider their communicative abilities to be fully thriving. There are a number of dioceses and archdioceses in the United States that have Deaf Apostolates or diocesan offices which engage Deaf culture. These offices coordinate the active participation of Deaf people in weekly liturgies, the sacraments, faith formation, and youth ministry. In our Church today, there are ordained priests and deacons that are Deaf, Deaf Catholic Pilgrimages, and homilies available in American Sign Language online.
While accessibility for the Deaf community is becoming more common within the Church, there is still an urgent need for improvement! The National Catholic Office for the Deaf estimates that 96% of Catholics are unchurched. Even though Deafness is not always considered a disability, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability still engages in the topic of Deafness because the Church desires the meaningful participation of Deaf people. Captioned Videos, Sign language interpreters, Deaf Masses, and Diocesan Deaf Apostolates are all initiatives that can promote this meaningful participation.
Hard-of-Hearing: Some people may consider their auditory difference to be a disability if it prevents them from communicating fully. These individuals may have cochlear implants or may use assistive listening devices. People who lose their hearing later in life because of trauma or old age experience hearing loss which they may or may not consider to be a disability. Captioned videos, American Sign Language interpreters, and assisted listening devices are all examples of accommodations that may help to promote the participation of people who are hard of hearing or have hearing loss.
While we are called to meet the specific needs of those with disabilities, it is incredibly important to create a culture of inclusion within our parishes. Only when all are fully welcomed to participate, will the Body of Christ be complete. To access some general resources, please click on the above heading or photo to be taken to our General Inclusion Resources Page.
~“Sometimes it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured. Yet our faith helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order to see life as God does. God’s unconditional love, which bathes every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life.”
-Meeting with Young People having Disabilities, Words of His Holiness Benedict XVI, April 19, 2008
Language from this page credited to NCPD.