Heeley Parish Church

Transforming life, transforming lives

Disability inclusion


We are made in the image of God, and as such all people are of equal importance and significance. In God there is no distinction between “male and female, Greek or Jew, slave or free” – disabled or able. We all, irrespective of our status have privileges and responsibilities in the practice and outworking of our faith. Just as there is a ‘bias to the poor’ so there is a Biblical imperative to have a corporate responsibility to those on the margins of society and within the structures of our church. This policy enshrines the principle that all people are treated equally.

Definition of disability

‘A person suffers a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial long term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out day to day activities’ (Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Part 1)

Physical or mental impairments include sensory impairments (such as those affecting sight and hearing) and learning difficulties. The definition also covers certain medical conditions when they have a long term and substantial effect on people’s everyday lives and mobility.

How the Equality Act affects ‘service-providers’ and Employers.

The Equality Act states that service providers and employees should take reasonable steps to ensure that their policies, practices and procedures enable people with disabilities to make full use of anything they offer to the public, or to work comfortably within the environment. If your practice makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a person with disabilities to work, or to use your services, you may be in breach of the Act unless you take steps to change. These are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’.

The Purpose of this policy

·         To support the church in changing lives by changing attitudes towards disability access and inclusion through its policies and practice.

·         To support informed advocacy of inclusive attitudes when speaking in public situations, and in written communications.

·         To support the church in its awareness as an employer and as a service provider to create accessibility for all.

·         To support good practice for churches as an institution in their role as providers for visitors, tourists, worshippers and pilgrims, in these places of cultural and religious heritage.

·         To support good practice for the church as an employer of both paid and voluntary workers, as required, in law.


To ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities we will aspire towards the following good practice:

· A positive attitude to include all people as equals and so enable their full and equal participation, where possible, in both sharing in and leading worship is at the heart of the Gospel.

· Where possible all should be able to access the building independently.

· Where possible there should be accessible seating, with varying seat height, some with arms.

· Where possible there should be free movement around the building for someone to independently use a wheelchair or other aids to assist their movement.

· Where possible steps and obstructions should be removed. Full participation in all aspects of worship is central to the experience of the worshipper.

· Gathering for Communion at the altar is the heart of Christian worship. Therefore where possible the altar should be fully accessible for communion in the way it is for the able bodied.

· Singing in the music group, communion assistants, reading lessons, leading intercessions, are all part of worship and where appropriate should be accessible to all.

· A loop system should be available and used.

· Large print service books and hymn books should be available.

· PCC meetings and all committee meetings should be held in accessible locations.

· Relevant church activities, socials, prayer groups, bible studies and courses should be held in accessible locations.

The Language we use.

It is important to use language that does not reinforce negative images, incorrect assumptions and stereotypes associated with people with disabilities. All language is constantly evolving and the simplest way to make sure you are using appropriate language is to ask people with disabilities themselves.

Language to be encouraged

Language to be avoided

People with disabilities

The disabled, invalid

Those with visual or hearing impairments

The blind, the partially sighted, the deaf

A person with arthritis, with epilepsy

An arthritic, an epileptic

Someone who has…

A victim of, suffers from, crippled/afflicted by

A person with physical disabilities

Cripple, handicapped

Someone with learning disabilities

Retarded, mentally handicapped

A person with cerebral palsy


Profoundly deaf

Deaf and dumb

Hearing aid

Deaf aid

Specify the need

Special needs person (too vague to be useful)

A wheelchair user

Wheelchair bound/dependant/confined

Accessible toilet

Disabled toilet (doesn’t work?)



The symbols below may be used to promote or solicit needs of accessibility of places, programmes and other activities for persons with disabilities.

   Indicates accessible facilities, paths, toilets and parking areas for people with limited mobility

Indicates enhanced hearing devices or technology are provided.

Indicates sign language is provided.

 Indicates print materials available in Braille upon request

Signifies print in 18 point or larger


This policy was last reviewed by the PCC 20th May 2019.