It was an accessible restaurant for a couple of years. Dion and I would occasionally go, entering through a door that was both wide and street-level. One day we arrived to notice that the door was locked. I went around to the other side of building to discover that they had reconfigured the space.
Often, somebody that holds a lot of power or privilege of one type has an easier on-ramp to additional forms of privilege and power than somebody who does not. Thus, rather than being evenly distributed, power tends to accumulate. This is a symptom of our broken humanity rather than the values of the kingdom of God in action.
Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Luke 5: 22
He was middle aged, had Down Syndrome, and spoke no English, but he said hello and quickly answered my introductory question about how long he had worked in that shop. I apologized for not understanding his answer and he realized that I was at a disadvantage in this conversation.
How can Canadian churches “build back better,” or—more accurately—create a “new normal” after COVID that’s healthier than the old? I would simply, and strongly, recommend one strategy that works for us at the IDRC: just ask, just listen.
This pandemic may soon be over, but for almost 20% of Canadians who experience some form of disability, the practice of self isolation and physical distancing will not necessarily end. As businesses, churches and community spaces begin to reopen, remember Isaiah 57:14 – 15.
Respecting neurodiversity means not starting with an assumption of what people want or need. Christian discipleship always happens within a specific context. Start with the people who are present and adjust the practices accordingly. It is more complicated than a standard way of discipleship but it is a way that respects that different ways God has created us.
My plea is that congregations will continue to have online worship services long after the pandemic is over.
Including people with disabilities can be an opportunity for creative disruption in the church and other places in society.
Well I finally did it. After three years of using this thing, I capsized my wheelchair; with me in it.