Vision impairments

“Visual impairment impacts both mobility and social inclusion in everyday life in many ways perhaps too numerous to explain, it also deeply impacts how the visually impaired Christian accesses Church  and how a disabled person participates and therefore feels included in the Body of Christ.”

Top tips for an inclusive church:

1.  Ensure that church web site is compatible with screen reading software

Advice can be readily obtained from Torch Trust for the Blind or Royal National Institute for the Blind. A text only option is the best way forward, but if you are using pictures please use 'alt text' so that the images can be 'read'. Keep it simple.

2.  Ensure that the church newsletter is available in other formats than print

Most visually impaired people will be able to receive a newsletter electronically which can be read by their screen reader. For older people with age related macular degeneration perhaps a large print version would be more acceptable.

3.  Verbal communication and socialisation

It is important to understand that a person with a visual impairment will be unable to read body language and facial expression. Please vocalise gestures and explain visual jokes, etc in order to be inclusive.

When approaching a person with a visual impairment, it is generally acceptable to touch lightly on the forearm or shoulder to indicate your presence. Please state your name as voice recognition can take time particularly if you don't know the person very well.

Visual impairment means that a person is unable to make eye contact and because our society understands that a lack of eye contact is an indication of an underlying tendency to shyess, it can lead to the idea that a visually impaired person does not want to make eye contact for some reason other than their ability to do so which is obviously not the case.

4.  Sermons and Teaching

Many churches now like to use flip charts of white boards to illustrate particular points. Please vocalise anything which appears on screen and also describe any teaching aids used.

5.  Transport

Unless accompanied by a family member, visually impaired people will have a problem with accessing a church service, social activity or home group. It would be very helpful if your church can identify a number of volunteers willing to offer regular transport.

6.  Guide Dogs and Long Canes

A visually impaired person may use a guide dog or a long cane to aid mobility. It would be helpful if pastoral care givers instructed themselves on the correct way to interact with a guide dog and to understand that a long cane is a means of identifying trip hazards.

7.  Access

Keep the layout of your church seating arrangements simple and remember that children should be educated in the fact that not everyone has good eyesight. Take the opportunity to ask a visually impaired person to chat with children and young people about what it means.

8. After Church Socialising

Ensure that someone is available to offer coffee and encourage group interaction rather than leaving a visually impaired person sitting alone.

Page last updated: Monday 15th April 2024 11:33 AM
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