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Catechesis for Persons with Disabilities: No Stumbling Block for Persons with Physical Disabilities
For Persons with Physical Disablilities Catechesis for persons who have physical disabilities is not that difficult. Only in rare cases will catechists need to make small adaptations in lesson content, unlike when preparing lessons for those with some cognitive difficulty. The greatest challenge that catechists face in preparing lessons for persons with physical disabilities has to do with making sure that the catechetical materials and the facilities are as accessible as possible. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops writes, concerning the need to welcome persons with disabilities: Since the parish is the door to participation in the Christian experience, it is the responsibility of both pastors and laity to assure that those doors are always open. Costs must never be the controlling consideration limiting the welcome offered to those among us with disabilities, since provision of access to religious functions is a pastoral duty.[i] While we agree that our parish offerings should be accessible, every catechetical facility, school, or parish may have its own difficulties in becoming more accessible. The National Directory for Catechesis states, “As much as possible, persons with disabilities themselves should guide catechetical personnel in adapting curricula to their particular needs.”[ii] For catechesis with children, parents will be our best resource. In order to be truly welcoming, though, we need to find and meet with the disabled persons in our community. Many times we might believe there are no persons with disabilities in our parishes, simply because we don’t see them. This is highly unlikely. It is quite possible that if we investigate, we may discover that the parish is in fact physically inaccessible.