What's Happening in UU Congregations and Denomination-Wide
To encourage and inspire you, we will share some of the accessibility activities that UU congregations and organizations have been involved in.
- March 2013 - Announcement of the Start of Disability / Ability Action Program
Equual Access is very pleased to announce the start of a program that challenges congregations to welcome, embrace, support, and integrate people with disabilities and their families into our congregations. Its sacred covenant with congregations is that they fully recognize the humanity and gifts of all people.
We are now requesting congregations to apply for a pilot program test that we hope to start in June 2013.
Please see this announcement for more details:
Disability / Ability Action Program Announcement
- December 2012 - The UUA Board needs you and your leadership
Calling all leaders! The Appointments Committee of the UUA is looking
for a few good folk to step up to the denominational plate and apply
to be on a wide range of various Board appointed committees. We have
around fifteen spots to fill and we need you! We want the committees
to reflect the full diversity of Unitarian Universalism and Unitarian
Universalists, and for that, we need your help and your application.
Learn more about the various committees of the UUA Board here:
And to apply, head on over to
We look forward to seeing your application!
-The Appointments Committee of the UUA Board.
- September 2012 - New Mission Statement Adopted by Equual Access Board
At a recent Equual Access Board retreat, we developed a series of statements describing the mission and vision of Equual Access with accompanying strategies and aims. You can read these statements below.
The mission describes the purpose of Equual Access, why we exist and what we intend to do. We will use this statement of purpose to evaluate potential projects to ensure they conform to our Mission. We will also measure the results of each project to ensure the same. The intent of the Board is to use this Mission statement as a "living document" for the next several years, continually reviewing its relevancy.
The vision imagines how the world will look when we complete our Mission. It reflects the changes that will have occurred and how life will be different because of our efforts.
The strategies and aims sections reveal the ways we will accomplish our Mission. They are more concrete and specific, supporting and detailing the Mission and Vision.
As a total package, these statements will function as the foundation for all that Equual Access is and will be for the next several years. We are very excited about these goals and what they promise for the future for people with disabilities, our families, and allies in Unitarian Universalist communities and in the wider world. We encourage you to join us on this challenging and satisfying adventure.
The Board of Equual Access
Carolyn Cartland, President
Suzanne Fast, Vice President
Linda Wright, Secretary
Carol Agate, Treasurer
Rev. Barbara Meyer, Chair, Policy Committee
Bill Dockery, Chair, Right Relations
Here are the newly adopted statements:
To enable the full engagement of people with disabilities in Unitarian Universalist communities and the broader society.
- There are no attitudinal, physical or communication barriers preventing full participation in the life of our Unitarian Universalist communities and the broader society.
Unitarian Universalists are active in disability justice issues.
We pledge to:
- Model living our faith as Unitarian Universalists.
- Act as a prophetic witness to the tenets of inclusion and justice as applied in our congregations and our society.
- Challenge ourselves and others to identify and eliminate barriers for people with disabilities.
- Promote positive understanding of people with disabilities and challenge ableism wherever it appears.
Aims & Strategies:
- Transform Unitarian Universalism by:
- Providing resources to help the Unitarian Universalist community become barrier-free and inclusive;
- Enabling UU congregations to understand and minister to the spiritual and personal needs of people with disabilities their families and friends; and
- Incorporating the gifts of ministry offered by people with disabilities into the life of the faith community
- Encourage Unitarian Universalists to work in the public square for disability justice by:
- Raising awareness, empowering change, and promoting a framework for advocacy grounded in our Unitarian Universalist faith.
- Be in solidarity with other Unitarian Universalist groups by:
- Collaborating with Unitarian Universalist organizations representing other “marginalized” groups and decision makers in the UUA to proactively work together to counter oppression.
- August 2012 - Audio recording of UU World Available
An audio recording of the Fall 2012 UU World magazine is now available on the UUA Website at:
Audio UU World .
- June 2012 - Disability Credentialing Program press release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The Unitarian Universalist Association and Equual Access announce the beginning of a program for congregations working to build a Beloved Community that encompasses people living with disabilities. This program encourages congregations both to become more inclusive of people living with disabilities in congregational life and to become more effective agents for dismantling ableism in the public square.
This new program will assist congregations to discern their current strengths and weaknesses as an intentionally inclusive community, to imagine what a more inclusive community might be like, and to develop an action plan that moves the congregation forward toward that vision. This program will work differently in every congregational setting; each congregation's journey starts from where they are.
Grounded in the promise of Covenant, the doctrine of Love, and the shared value of Human Dignity, congregations involved in this program benefit from the gifts and talents of people with all abilities.
The program's toolbox will include practical resources for use in worship, religious education of children and adults, social justice work, and congregational life. Congregations completing this program will be able to celebrate specific achievements based on their action plan, as well as progress toward becoming a community that calls all of us to be our best selves.
This program is in development. It is scheduled for field testing in 2013. General release is anticipated for General Assembly 2014.
For further information contact:
Rev. Barbara F. Meyers
38132 Kimbro Street, Fremont, CA 94536
bfkmeyers at prodigy.net
- June 2012 - Equual Access Election Results
The results of the Equual Access Election are as follows:
President - Carolyn Cartland
Secretary - Linda Wright
Chair Right Relations - Bill Dockery
Carolyn Cartland had been the Vice President, and her term had not expired. Her election to President leaves the position of Vice President open. The Board will discuss how to go about filling this position at their next meeting.
- June 2012 - General Assembly Accessibility Services
Patty Cameron of General Assembly Accessibility Services has prepared information to all the people who have contacted her requesting services or information. Click here to download Patty's Document
- May 2012 - Equual Access Elections
Description of the Positions Open on the Equual Access Board of Directors: Elections in June 2012
There are three positions open on the Equual Access (EA) Board of Directors for which candidates are being solicited. Elections will be held in June 2012. The openings are President, Secretary, and Chair of the Right Relations Committee. Shown below are brief descriptions of the duties of each position. For further information, please go to the EA bylaws at
If you are interested in applying for any of these positions, please send an email to Carol Agate at (carolagate at mac.com) stating your desire to run for the position, along with a short biography. If you nominate someone to run, you must include proof that they accept the nomination and their biography. The due date for all nominations is May 15, 2012.
The President shall:
- Preside at or appoint a moderator for Board and annual meetings.
- Perform the usual duties of the office of President and such other duties as the Board may designate.
- Serve as the main liaison with the UUA, its President, Moderator, Board, Committees and staff.
- The President and Vice President of Equual Access must self identify as people with disabilities.
The Secretary shall:
- Perform the usual duties of the office of Secretary and any special duties prescribed by law and these bylaws.
- Post on the Equual Access e-list all relevant material concerning operations of the organization.
- Give due notice of meetings of the Board, annual meetings, or proposed amendments to the bylaws, and the slate for nominations for office not less than 30 days before such meetings and/or elections are scheduled to be held.
- Oversee the election process in odd-numbered years. The Chair of the Right Relations Committee shall:
- Determine the frequency and purpose of all meetings of the Committee. - Appoint one or more members of the committee to answer requests for assistance on the toll-free telephone number and email.
- Manage the process to facilitate direct communication between the individual making a request for assistance and the appropriate party.
The EA Right Relations process is as follows:
- Each request received will first be reviewed at a meeting of the Right Relations Committee.
- Appropriate resources and strategies will be preliminarily discussed and the request will be assigned to two members of the Committee for follow-up.
- The follow-up team will, as appropriate, report back to the Committee with progress and/or consultation on how to proceed further.
- Each person making a request is asked to submit the following information: - a brief description of the nature of the barrier(s) to full participation, - name and location of the congregation, district or other UU related organization - actions already taken to reduce or eliminate the barrier(s)
- February 2012 - Equual Access General Assembly Workshops -
We are very happy to announce that Equual Access will have two worships at GA 2012 in Phoenix.
In addition, Equual Access will have a booth in the Exhibit Hall, and there will be resting areas in the Convention Center.
- Creating Inclusive, Accessible Public Witness Events
All are called to work for justice, yet many public witness events further marginalize people with disabilities.
In this workshop, we focus on both physical and attitudinal barriers, on both logistics and messaging.
Learn from case studies, and begin to re-imagine your next witness event.
- Economic Justice for People with Disabilities
People with disabilities face poverty and unemployment at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities.
How can our congregations influence the conversation for economic justice? We will review the latest news and resources.
Participants will practice articulating theological calls for justice and brainstorm advocacy strategies.
A detailed explanation of how to reserve housing for GA 2012 is now on the Equual Access blog at
Don't delay - reservations are first come first served basis and begin on March 1.
- October 2011 - UUA
Kay Montgomery, the executive VP of the UUA, has just sent a note to the President of Equual Access agreeing to the following:
When this was discussed at this month's Equual Access Board Meeting, it was agreed that the Policy Committee,
which coordinated writing the Accessibilities Policy document, would take the lead in helping to suggest a credentialing
practice. Suggestions that you might have on how congregations might rate themselves in terms of accessibility.
You may Click here to email Equual Access. email@example.com.
- The UUA administrative staff will recommend the Equual Access Accessibility Policy document to congregations, will put it on our web site, and will send it specifically to field staff.
- They will look closely at their own accessibility practices.
- They suggested that EA might like to begin some sort of step "credentialing" practice for accessibility.
- September 2011 - Accessibility Guidelines Document Now Available -
Equual Access has prepared an Accessibility Guidelines document for the use of the UUA and its member congregations.
To get a copy of this document, click here for our Resources & Links web page.
- August 2011 - @EquualAccess now on Twitter
@EquualAccess is now on Twitter.com ! We share resources and information about Unitarian Universalism and accessibility and disability rights. We're a reference point and also a connecting point - like a welcome table -- on Twitter (over 200 million users and growing). Follow us on Twitter! You can also recommend resources and information, blog posts and podcasts that relate to Unitarian Universalism, disability rights, and accessibility for our sharing.
- June 2011 - Suggestions for Positive Communication and
Suggestions for Positive Communication and Constructive Negotiation from the Right Relations Committee of Equual Access is now available. The purpose of this document is to give you some communication tools to use when you are attempting to increase access and inclusion for persons with disabilities, and you seem to be encountering resistance.
Click here to get a document with these suggestions
The Right Relations Committee of Equual Access serves as a resource for Unitarian Universalists who wish to improve accessibility in the UUA, its member congregations, and other UU-related organizations. The Committee's purpose is to advocate for the elimination of barriers, physical, attitudinal and programmatic that impedes equal participation by individuals with disabilities.
- June 2011 - UUA General Assembly in Charlotte, North Carolina
Equual Access was present at General Assembly 2011:
- We had a well visited booth in the Exhibit Hall
- We held two widely-attended workshops
- Hospitality Holds the Keys to Accessibility - positive ways to enhance a welcoming environment for people with all abilities in your congregation, featuring Suzanne Fast, Reverend Barbara Meyers, and Mark Bernstein
Click here to see the Hospitality presentation.
- What Else is in my 'Invisible Knapsack'? Paula Cole Jones, Director for Racial and Social Justice for the Joseph Priestley District, will present along with Equual Access Board member Suzanne Fast in what promises to be a fascinating comparison of anti-racism models and issues with those of anti-ableism.
Click here to see the Invisible Knapsack presentation.
- June 2011 - Central East Regional Group support of Disabilities Rights
Please check out www.cerguua.org for new wording on support of disabilities rights and links to Equual Access website and UUA Accessibilities website.
This wording was approved by the District Executives and consultants that make up the Central East Regional Group.
- May 2011 - Share Your Story!
Equual Access is searching for stories of inclusion, hospitality, and creative thinking by our congregations. If you have a personal story of how a Unitarian Universalist congregation overcame barriers (physical or attitudinal) to welcome a person with disabilities, please share it.
These stories will be used to raise awareness and encourage creative 'problem' solving in workshops and educational materials. This includes a workshop at this year's General Assembly in Charlotte - 'Hospitality Holds the Keys to Accessibility' on Thursday, June 23rd. Stories must be received by May 31st for inclusion in this year's GA.
Click here to send us a video, audio, or written file and put Share Your Story in the subject line.
- January 2011 - Interfaith Mental Health Coalition
Bob Skrocki is
chair of the leadership committee of the Suburban Chicago Interfaith
Mental Health Coalition doing follow up planning to the highly
successful November 9 conference, which had 200 registrants representing
78 different local faith communities from 14 different faith traditions
or denomination, including 59 clergy. The Coalition will focus this year
on mental health related support, consultation, and ministry development
to/with faith communities in the 6 county suburban Chicago area. For
more information see www.scimc.org.
- January 2011 - Award for Mental Health Achievement to Equual Access Board Member
Rev. Barbara F. Meyers, a member of the Equual Access Board and a community minister
with a mental health ministry, has been selected to receive a Mental Health
Achievement Award from the Mental Health Association of Alameda County, California.
The award is to recognize her successful efforts to educate church goers and the
community at large about mental illness and the challenges it presents to
people directly affected and their families and friends and to eradicate
the stigmas surrounding mental illness.
Website for UU Mental Health Ministry
- October 2010 - GA Planning Update
The Board of Equual Access has committed to raising the organization's profile at the UUA General Assembly,
in furtherance of the organization's goal to ensuring that our faith community warmly welcomes all people including
those of us with disabilities.
Currently, we are developing proposals for programs and hope to have a sequence of related programs accepted.
(The process for program selection has changed. For insights on the process see this blog post:
Proposing a Program for the 2011 General Assembly )
There are strong parallels between the missions for GA programming and the missions of Equual Access!
There are other aspects to our commitment to increase our profile at GA in 2011. For example, having a booth gives us a venue for still more outreach.
We are also following up on advocacy issues stemming from prior GAs, seeking to be proactive on ableism and accessibility.
Many hands make light work, they say. Well, there is a great deal of work to do, both at home and during GA. Please be a part of it. We need you. To volunteer, please contact Suzanne Fast at sfeaal @ yahoo.com. And keep those ideas coming!
Watch this space for future updates!
Suzanne Fast,Project Coordinator
- July 2010 - Results of First Equual Access Election The results of the first Equual Access Election are in. Here are the elected officers:
President: Arthur Tackman
Secretary: Caron Wells
Chair of Right Relations Committee: Linda Wright
They join the remaining Equual Access Board members who were not up for reelection this year:
Vice President: Carolyn Cartland
Treasurer: Carol Agate
Chair of Policy Committee: Barbara Meyers
- March 2010 - Interfaith Mental Health Coalition Conference Bob Skrocki is helping develop the newly formed Suburban Chicago Interfaith Mental Health Coalition to put on its first annual conference on Tuesday November 9, 2010 in Elgin, IL.
See http://scimc.wikispaces.com/ for more information on the coalition's work.
- Spring 2010 - UU Fellowship for Full Inclusion of Individuals with Developmental Challenges
The Full Inclusion Living and Learning Unitarian Universalist Society is a lay-led
congregation that seeks to nurture the spiritual needs of all individuals, without regard
to developmental abilities and challenges. Many, although not all, members of FILL UUS
are individuals or family members of individuals diagnosed with social, language-based, or cognitive
challenges. We seek to provide services where families will feel comfortable, and to gear religious exploration to
the strengths and abilities of the youth who attend. The first organizational service will be on the evening of May 7.
It will meet at the South Nassau, New York UU church.
Learn more at http://www.filluus.org/
- July 2009 - The UUA is joining the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition by The Rev. Devorah Greenstein
The UUA is joining the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), a new initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities, a coalition of religious and religiously-affiliated organizations 'whose core spiritual values affirm the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.' IDAC will use its collective strength 'to speak out and take action on disability policy issues with Congress, the President and Administration, and society at large.' (Ginny Thornburgh, writing on the AAPD blog on July 30, 2009.)
On July 27, 2009 Kat Liu, Assistant Director of the UUA's Washington Office for Advocacy, represented the UUA at the first IDAC Membership Information Meeting, where AAPD President Andy Imparato explained that the Community Choice Act and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, will be the two policy issues at the forefront of IDAC's agenda.
Our faith community is ALWAYS on the Side of Love, and working with IDAC will be our way of showing that we understand that disability IS a social justice issue that deserves our fullest attention.
- The Rev. Mary Harrington Gives Sermon at the Service of the Living Tradition at GA
The Rev. Mary Harrington gave a powerful sermon at the Service of the Living Tradition at General Assembly.
Mary is living with ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease and uses a wheel chair. For the sermon, she was sitting in
a beautiful chair and had a special microphone.
The title of her sermon - A Lifetime Isn't Long Enough - is from the poem
Flare by Mary Oliver: "Even a lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of
Here is one of the main messages from the sermon: You are a part of the
beauty of this world which no one will ever enjoy, not even you if your
treasures stay locked inside. So, sharing your treasures with others is
holy work. She goes on to suggest how to share our treasures.
To read her sermon see:
Lifetime Not Enough Sermon.
The entire service can be viewed at:
Service of the Living Tradition 2009.
- Equual Access at General Assembly 2009 by Carol Agate
At General Assembly, the Equual Access meeting included a discussion of the situation at GA and problems in our congregations. We are interested in ideas for creating accessibility consultants to advise congregations. We discussed the issue of the campaign name: "Standing on the Side of Love," which excludes people who can't 'stand.'
As a representative of Equual Access I was invited to attend a dinner meeting with the UUA board's Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, Multiculturalism Team and members of various affinity groups. They asked what accountability of the UUA Board would look like. After that question the comments were far-ranging. People agreed that a lot more needs to be done, and asked that the UUA board let us know what they want us to do. Part of the need is district trainings, but some board members have been unable to get their district boards to agree to it. I used "Standing on the Side of Love" as an example of things that are done through lack of awareness, and suggested that the way to prevent it is to keep people informed of plans as projects are in the works instead of rolling them out when they are finished.
For more GA coverage, see Carol Agate's complete report on GA 2009 happenings.
- April 2009 - UU World Audio Recordings Available
Audiorecordings of the articles in the latest UU World are now available.
Award-winning audiobook actor Dick Hill reads articles from
the Spring 2009 issue. The recordings can be listened to in most
browsers or downloaded to your computer for playback using an .mp3
player. The audio version of UU World is produced in cooperation with
the UUA Office of Accessibility Concerns. You can hear the recordings at:
Audio Recordings Spring 2009
- March 2009 - Expanding Access: A Florida District Council
Florida District Assembly offered an opportunity for planning to begin for a District Council on Expanding Access.
For more information,
click here to email Suzanne Fast,
click here to email Linda Wright, or
click here to email District Executive Rev. Kenneth G. Hurto.
Suzanne Fast and Linda Wright at the Florida District Assembly
- Accessibility Programming at General Assembly
General Assembly often sees the gathering of people passionate about activism in the intersection between disability and religion.
Left to Right: The Rev. Devorah Greenstein, Program Coordinator for the UUA Office of Accessibility Concerns; Simona Munson, administrator for the UUA's Identity Based Ministries; Jacqui Williams, an anti-oppression trainer who does anti-ableism and anti-racism work;
The Rev. Laurie Thomas author of a curriculum called Perspectives on Disability; Eli Clare, an anti-ableism activist and trainer. See GA 2009 for information about the next General Assembly.
- September 21, 2008 - Accessible Restroom at Monte Vista UU Congregation
Click here to open a PDF file titled 'Fairness in Flushing' A Reality at MVUUC
Monte Vista UU Congregation creates a wheelchair accessible, ADA compliant, family-friendly restroom. Contact the minister The Rev. Ann Schranz for information.
Click here to email The Rev. Ann Schranz.