Accessibility

Is University Christian Church accessible?

If you have a specific request with regards to accessibility or questions concerning Disability-focused issues, please contact Topher Endress at tendress@ucc-austin.org

Accessibility is not a question of ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Accessibility is a moving target, and cannot be made as simple as checking off a list of a few accessible items. People are all different, whether they have a disability or not, and with the incredible city of ours growing daily, we as a church recognize that we may not be a place that physically welcomes every person. That is a failure on our part, yes, but we are a church – that means we are a collection of people who have recognized that we make mistakes and failures. And we want to do better. Are we accessible? Somewhat. We have ramps and barrier free pathways in and out. We have an accessible restroom (which is large enough for attendants and motorized chairs). We have an elevator. We have adjustable lighting. We have gluten-free communion. But we aren’t there yet. Our building is old, and frankly, it’s not the most conducive to accessibility. It wasn’t designed with the Deaf community in mind with ramps instead of stairs, large mirrors, and opaque walls to classrooms like Gallaudet University is. It wasn’t designed with those on the Autism spectrum in mind, with diffused lighting and a sensory room ready to go. It wasn’t designed for wheelchair access, for people who are blind, or for people with neuromotor issues, or for people who find it hard to sit still on wooden pews.

But we are a Church, and Churches are in the business of restoration

To us, physically access is a necessity. We don’t believe in barriers to faith, much less physical ones. But we’re still on our way there. What we can promise you is that if you are struggling with an issue of access, you will not be met with indifference. You will be listened to, respected, cared for, and believed. Whether you are 3 years old and have Down syndrome, 35 with quadriplegia, or 83 with dementia, you will be given the dignity and respect due to all children of God. We are learning how to live into the calling to prepare the way of the Lord – a way which has leveled the mountains, raised the valleys, straightened the crooked, and made the rough smooth. We hear our God commanding us these things not as arbitrary work, but so that all might have access to a vibrant faith. And we believe that by removing the barriers that the church so often places between people with disabilities and the rest of the community, we will all together truly see the glory of the Lord revealed. Adapted from Isaiah 40:3-5

Visual Schedule

Visual Schedule Pg. 1

Austin Christian Church

A visual schedule is a tool that can be used by anyone who wants to have a visual guide for an event or action. This visual schedule illustrates what you can expect at University Christian Church when you come to a worship service here. Each picture is of our actual Austin christian church, and is balanced by a Boardmaker-style cartoon of the same concept. For those who are very familiar with Boardmaker-style schedules, this may help to connect big concepts with what they look like in our specific context.

Visual Schedule Pg. 2

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Visual Walk Through from Parking Lot to UCC Sanctuary

Visual Walk Through from Sanctuary to Accessible Restroom

Visual Walk Through from Classrooms to Sanctuary

Does UCC Have a Separate Ministry for Those With Disabilities?

No. You will find can find otherĀ Austin-area churches thatĀ do have specific programs, classes, or ministries for both children and adults with various disabilities; we do not. It is our theological position that all people are called as members of the unified Body. Each person has gifts and talents, as well as needs and struggles, which are indispensable to the good of the community. We cannot justify taking a person away from our worship under the guise of “it’s more on their level,” or “they are too distracting to be included.” Rather, we believe that if a person needs to flap their hands to feel comfortable in worship, they should flap their hands to the glory of God. If they need to vocalize or stem, they should do so to the glory of God. If they need to use a hearing assistance device, if they need to be turned periodically to prevent sores, if they need help eating or holding a hymnbook, whatever it is they need to do, they should do. And it becomes the community’s responsibility, then, to see that as a form of worship and to grow because of that person’s presence. We do not have a separate ministry because we do not see ourselves as separate. There should not be an “us” in the real service and a “them” in a sequestered classroom. We are one body, one people, one faith, and we choose to live that out by allowing any and all into our worship with us. Hopefully, even, the presence of those typically segregated will inform and change our worship, making it stronger, more diverse, and more vibrant with each new person who walks, limps, or rolls in.

We do, however, offer a specialized training program for churches both with and without special needs ministries. We believe that all churches are called to seek inclusion well, and we are blessed to be in a position to aid that misison. If you are interested in training, education, and/or materials to help further inclusion within your faith community, check out our Faith and Disability Inclusion Program.