Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed and fully implemented in 1992, not all facilities were required to become “accessible.” The ADA covered “public accommodations” but has no authority over private institutions and organizations. So let’s talk a bit about “places of worship.”
Churches, synagogues, fellowships or whatever a place of worship chooses to be called do not fall under the auspices, rules and guidelines of the ADA. Because these institutions are private religious organizations, they are not required to become compliant with Title III of the ADA regarding “public accommodations.”
Now, I have been in many places of worship and have yet to find one where I can’t get through the doors. Yet once inside, many an obstacle has been found. Probably the most annoying and inconvenient situation is an inaccessible restroom. Classrooms and the like can easily be made accommodating but once the plumbing is in place it’s difficult to change.
Situations like this can be very discouraging to people with disabilities. As usual, changes can be made (and should be) but it’s usually a slow process. Change will not be made until the problem area is brought to the attention of those in authority.
Check out your place of worship for accessibility issues and report your findings to those in authority. Try to get a plan of action to make necessary changes.
In a land that was founded on religious freedom, would it be a shame if we all were not comfortable in our respective places of worship?
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