Blurred People
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Best practice guidelines

We are often asked for ‘Best Practice Guidelines’ for churches to be accessible for people with sight loss.

There are two difficulties with this…..

  • All churches are different
  • All people with sight loss are different

Each individual with sight loss will have their own experience of how sight loss affects them, how useful any remaining vision is, and how they cope with their sight loss. Each individual will find different challenges to feeling included at church and what they find difficult or helpful.

The ‘Best Practice Guidelines’ therefore are along these lines:

  • Make it easy for people with sight loss to identify themselves to you

Sight loss is often a hidden disability and many churches are unaware of people within their church family who are experiencing sight loss.

Make it easy for people with sight loss to come and have a conversation with you. This is often helped if a church nominates an individual such as a ‘Sight Loss Champion’ so that people with sight loss know they can go and have a quiet talk with this person about what they are finding difficult at church.

Make sure you keep on publicising that this ‘Sight Loss Champion’ service is available – people’s sight will change, and new people will begin to experience sight loss, so this needs to be an ongoing message.

  • Be more aware about sight loss

Think about having some awareness training for people within your church such as welcomers, church leadership, pastoral visitors and people who display the words on screens or produce printed information. A ‘Sight Loss Friendly Church Workshop’ is available free of charge through Torch and would be appropriate for all of these people.

Being more aware will help you in every way…. to be confident that you will be able to identify people with sight loss within your church family and that you will then know how to respond to them to overcome any barriers they may be facing to being fully included in church life.

  • Let people know

Do let people know that sight loss is something your church is taking seriously and wants to respond to. Many people with sight loss say nothing about their difficulties as they do not want to cause anyone at church extra work or to be a ‘burden to others’.

Publicise it widely in your church and make it known that you want to hear from people with sight loss, and want to help to include them in church life.

If you produce printed information, have some large print copies available too. You may be surprised how many people find this helpful, and this may be an opening to find out about other issues they may be finding difficult.

  • Ask – and respond to individuals

Once you have followed all these steps you will find that you are far more aware about sight loss in general, and in particular far more aware of people within your church family who are experiencing sight loss. You will probably be surprised that there are people you had no idea were experiencing sight loss.

You will also find that you have made it easy for people with sight loss to be open about the difficulties they are facing and made it easy for them to approach someone within the church to explain about these difficulties. You will be enabling conversations with them about how your church can respond and include them in church life without their sight loss being a barrier.

What you will find is that in following these steps, and responding to these conversations, you will have built up the tailor-made ‘Best Practice Guidelines’ for your own church!