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Checkpoints can help churches become disability-friendly

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)-A checklist of ideas provided by the Lakeshore Foundation’s religion and disability program can help Southern Baptist churches determine if they are disability-friendly:

Parking and Walkways

— Are there clearly marked accessible parking spaces close to the church building?

— Can one get from a parked car into the building without going up or down steps?

— Are walks at least 48 inches wide with a gradient no greater than 5 percent?

— Do walks have a level platform at the door that is 5 feet by 5 feet and extends at least 1 foot beyond each side of the door?

Ramps and Stairs

— Do ramps have a slope no greater than 1-foot rise in 12 feet and a width of no less than 36 inches?

— Do ramps have handrails on at least one side 32 inches above the surface?

— Do ramps have level platforms in front of doors that have at least 5 feet of straight clearance?

— Are ramps protected from rain and winter icing?

— Do steps avoid abrupt nosing?

— Do stairs have handrails on both sides 32 inches high as measured from the tread at the face of the riser?

— Are open stairs provided with a means of warning the blind, such as slightly raised abrasive strips?

Doors and Doorways

— Do doors have a clear opening of 32 inches or more?

— Are doors operable by a single effort? Note: Double doors are not usable by any with disabilities unless they operate by single effort, or unless one door is 32 inches wide.

— Are doors operable with pressure (81 pounds or less) that could reasonably be expected from disabled persons?

— Do doors with latch hardware have lever or other easy grip handles?

Worship Space

— Are there seating spaces with extra legroom for disabled persons with crutches, walkers, braces or casts?

— Are at least two seats provided for wheelchair users? Note: Several pews could be shortened by 36 inches.

— Is the chancel area accessible to disabled persons to speak or sing in the choir?

— Does lighting (windows, stained glass, etc.) behind the speaker avoid glare? Is there adequate lighting everywhere in the sanctuary?


— Is there at least one accessible toilet on each floor?

— Are towel dispensers mounted no higher than 40 inches from the floor?

— Do toilet rooms have turning space 5 feet by 5 feet to allow traffic of individuals in wheelchairs?

— Is there at least one toilet stall that is at least 36 inches wide, 48 inches clear depth from door closing to front of commode, and a 32-inch door that swings out?

— Does the toilet stall have grab bars on each side?

— Is there a sink wall mounted with 29 inches of clearance from floor to bottom of sink?

— Are faucet controls easy to operate, requiring no difficult finger or hand action?

Water Fountains

— Is there at least one water fountain accessible to people in wheelchairs?

— Is the water fountain mounted with basin no more than 36 inches from the floor? Are the water fountains easily hand operated?


— If your church is multistory, does it have an elevator or chair lift? Are all controls 54 inches or less from the floor?

— Is there at least one handrail 32 inches from floor?

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