SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — In a Mormon congregation, a wheelchair equipped with a special tray allows a young man with a disability to participate with his peers to pass the sacrament during Sunday worship services.
In other congregations, teachers use communication boards to illustrate lesson ideas for children with verbal limitations and interpreters attend meetings to translate discussions into American Sign Language for Mormons with hearing loss.
Such innovations are among the many suggestions now available at www.disabilities.lds.org, a newly posted link on the Church website to assist members in understanding and responding to individuals with special needs. The site provides detailed information on a range of disabilities, not only for helps in adjusting to Church services, but also in dealing with concerns in the home.
“Disabilities.lds.org will provide a valuable resource to those who work tirelessly to understand the challenges and difficulties faced by our friends and family members with disabilities,” explained Elder Gary J. Coleman, a member of the Seventy and a director of the Curriculum Department at Church headquarters.
Placing a wealth of information in one spot facilitates access for so many people who need support, explains Doug Hind, manager of special curriculum for the Church.
“The major accomplishment of this new website,” according to Hind, “is that we now have all these aids and helps in one place. We’ve had pieces of this information scattered in handbooks, lesson manuals and on other Web sites, but now it is in one spot and much more accessible.”
Hind shared future plans for the website, including offering additional teaching helps for both Church leaders and for families. “We hope to add icons, for example, that a teacher or parent could copy and thus, facilitate a non-verbal child praying or participating in a gospel discussion through pictures.”
“The website gives us huge hope,” admitted Lisa Thornton, mother of 4-year-old Kate, a child who has Prader-Willi syndrome. “There’s an additional measure of credibility to our problem and that of others who live with disabilities. It’s exciting to have another door open, to get attention and information for us, for our extended families and for our Church friends and neighbors.”
“We hope the new web section on disabilities will bring awareness to leaders and helps for families and those who have disabilities to assist them in participating more fully in the Church and with greater understanding in their homes,” Hind concluded.
This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at lds.org.