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Hineinu: Ask the Question - Identifying Attitudes and Barriers

Use these questions as starting points for discussion of attitudinal and physical barriers in your congregation. 

• Do people with disabilities participate in the religious or political leadership of the congregation?

• What does the congregation do to encourage the participation and recognize the contributions of people with disabilities?

• Is there a plan for including children with disabilities in your religious school?

• Can and do people with disabilities celebrate life cycle events in your congregation? If not, do you know why?

• Is there a way for people with disabilities to offer suggestions and expertise on reducing barriers in the congregation without feeling like they are complaining or imposing?

• Are all congregational services, events, and meetings scheduled in accessible locations?

• Do you use "people-first language" in your speech, temple newsletters, etc.? (This is language that refers to the person first and the disability second. For example, "person with paraplegia," instead of "paraplegic.")

• Does your congregation offer a way to teach members and children about people with disabilities?

• Do you reach out to members of the congregation who can’t get to the building? Does someone offer to drive? Do you offer to hold a service or class at their home?

• Do you reach out to and acknowledge the needs of family members and life partners of people with disabilities?

• Is the rabbi a role model for creating a welcoming attitude?

• Does your synagogue have a board-level committee or task force on the inclusion of people with disabilities?

• Has your congregation adopted a statement on inclusion?

• Does your congregation indicate a willingness to raise money for and/or think creatively about ways to be accessible and welcoming?

• Has there been a discussion or training session with staff members, board members, congregants, and teachers about how to make guests and constituents with disabilities feel welcome and included?

• Do all publicity and written materials say “All are welcome”? Is it written in an easy-to-read typeface and font?

• Is the universal access symbol posted in ads, signs, and in the congregation’s newsletter or bulletin?

• Do people with disabilities participate as ushers, lead services, sing in the choir, or serve on committees?

• Are people with disabilities encouraged to apply for jobs and serve on the Board of Directors?

• Are written materials, including prayer books, bulletins, newsletters, fliers, and brochures available in large-print, Braille, and/or by e-mail?

• Is the building accessible to people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices? Is there a passenger elevator in the building does not include the service elevator? Is there a ramp or lift to the building and to the bimah?

• Is sign language interpretation provided at all programs and events that people who are Deaf might attend?

• Does everyone enter through the same doorway? If not, is the accessible doorway welcoming and attractive?

• Are assistive listening devices available in the sanctuary, classrooms, and meeting rooms?

• Are light switches, water faucets, water fountains, and mezuzot at appropriate heights for people who use wheelchairs or who are small?


This checklist compiled from: