D097 Establish an Advisory Council on Disability and Deaf Access

Original version

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention reaffirm and renew its previous commitments to Resolutions 2003-D051 and 2015-D043, which require the Church to provide persons with disabilities and Deaf people with full independent accessibility to all official and ancillary events of the Church; and be it further

Resolved, That the 79th General Convention authorize the establishment of an Advisory Council to guide the implementation of the Church’s commitment to accessibility for people with disabilities and Deaf people; and be it further

Resolved, That the work of the Advisory Council include: a triennial review of progress made toward full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and any other relevant statutes; consultation with Church staff to ensure that materials, policies, and procedures for accessibility and reasonable accommodations are developed and implemented for each General Convention and ancillary Church event; and developing a means of reconciliation with people who have been excluded from Church events due to lack of accessibility or failure to provide reasonable accommodations; and be it further

Resolved, That the Advisory Council shall consist of between five and nine members, to be appointed jointly by the President of the House of Deputies and the Presiding Bishop, and a majority of the members shall be persons who identify as Deaf and/or disabled.

Explanation

The Episcopal Church is called to be an inclusive church, and the work done at Convention largely supports our desire to include all of God’s children in as many ways as possible. However, in recent years, people with disabilities have encountered lack of access and other barriers to General Convention but to other ministries of the Church and calls to service. These barriers have included lack of effective communication access, lack of information regarding accessible bathrooms, accessible exits and entrances, and procedure for requesting and appealing reasonable accommodation decisions. Despite previous resolutions passed at General Convention that affirmed the right of people with disabilities to participate in the Church (2003-D051 and 2015-D043), there is still a need for significant improvements to basic inclusion and access.

By having a majority of the advisory council be Deaf people and/or people with disabilities, the Church would recognize and affirm the right of people with disabilities to determine their own needs and ensure that the Church’s work in this area is guided by individuals who have first-hand knowledge of access, inclusion, and legal protections for people with disabilities. Creation of this advisory council will allow for The Episcopal Church to become a more inclusive place for people with disabilities who are called to serve Christ and the Church through participation in General Convention, ancillary bodies and committees, and advocacy consultations.


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