The Vermont Center for Independent Living recognized a Montpelier institution on April 17. The Unitarian Church of Montpelier received an Ally of Accessibility Award for its efforts to become increasingly accessible to people with disabilities.
VCIL Executive Director Sarah Launderville said, “We are pleased to be honoring the Unitarian Church as they have done an excellent job in making their space more inclusive. Since this church is used as community space we are thrilled to have more accessible options!”
The church has installed a new, more accessible bathroom, repaired a ramp at the rear of the building and installed a loop system for the benefit of hard of hearing people. The church has also repaved its parking lot and added a designated, accessible parking spot. In addition, the School Street entrance has been reconfigured, including installing a mechanized door as well as push buttons on both the inside and outside of the doorway. The church has even wired sound into a room in the basement that could benefit people with psychiatric and/or developmental disabilities who appreciate less crowded spaces.
And that’s not all the Unitarian Church has done to show its commitment to promoting accessibility. Liz Benjamin, chairperson of the church’s Accessibility Committee, said, “This past Sunday [April 15] the congregation voted to hire an architect to give a preliminary report on how to make the building fully accessible, among other goals. Also, the congregation has been accepted into a program of the Unitarian Universalist Association called the Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry. We are working on choosing activities which will earn us this credential.”
“The first line of our congregation’s mission statement is ‘We Welcome All.’ To fully welcome all, we know we need to make our building as accessible as possible to all people, including people with disabilities,” said the Rev. Joan Javier-Duval. “We live our values in this way because creating the inclusive and welcoming world we desire is a joyful act and it is the right thing to do.”