Disability and church

Revd Katie Tupling (2nd left) with Lucy, Emma and PollyThe church community is only complete when all are welcome.

In the Diocese of Oxford, we celebrate the inclusion, contribution and ministry of disabled people, recognising that the church community is only complete when all are welcome, and the partnership that should exist between disabled people and those who are non-disabled.

We aim to support parishes, deaneries and the diocese in ensuring that our buildings, activities and services are welcoming and accessible for disabled people. This work includes mentoring, disability access audits for churches; disability awareness sessions for parish or deanery groups; other forms of training, and individual advice to parishes on disability issues.

You can also find out more about the work being done in the Deaf Churches by going to the website of the Oxford Council for the Deaf and Hard of hearing (the link is here). For an introduction to D/deaf culture and some of the challenges faced by this community, there is an excellent article here written by Lucy Cooper.


Top tips for churches

What makes a good disabled loo?

The Revd Katie Tupling gives you the grand tour of a church toilet, highlighting all the things to consider to help create the most accessible disabled loo possible. There's more suggestions for your disabled loo beneath the video, too.

Additional thoughts on toilets...

Not everyone who uses a disabled loo will be a wheelchair user.

Grab rails are needed to help get people from the door to the loo to the handbasin and towels and back to the door - that way, no one has to precariously reverse themselves out of the room. If possible, the door should have a grab rail too.

Pull cords should be in reach, as mentioned in the video, but make sure they aren't right next to a rail to minimise accidental use.

A further thought on the flush location - avoid having it on the tank itself, where someone would have to turn all the way around to use it.

Changing tables should be robust enough for use by older children and adults - you can still get adult-sized beds that lift up to the wall to preserve floor space.

Our thanks to St Mary & St Nicholas' Church, Littlemore, for their help. See more of their church in the first top tips video - accessibility in church buildings.

A BSL-interpreted version of this series will be made available in 2023 - we apologise it can't be sooner.


Vocations through the lens of disability & neurodivergence

25 February 2023, Church House Oxford

Meet and chat with people with first-hand experience of exploring their Christian calling through the lens of disability and neurodiversity.

Find out more and book



Loving God, we pray for all disabled people across the world. 
May all disabled people know your love. 
May your Church recognise and value the gifts and skills of disabled people. 
Together, may we worship you freely, serve you willing,
and be truly your Church in all our diversity. 


General resources around disability and inclusion

Diocese of Oxford Disability Conference 2021

A wealth of wisdom from disabled people and relevant organisations.

Watch the talks and read the FAQs.

Disability Access Audit for Church Buildings

A document to download and use to assess your church building's accessibility.

Disability Access Audit 2022

Welcoming and Including Autistic People in our Churches and Communities

Guidelines produced for use in the Diocese of Oxford.

Welcoming Autism church guidelines 2021

Children in church resource

This guide is for people with responsibility for children’s work in churches, and includes topics such as making people feel welcome, making people feel included and ideas for teaching and worship.

Welcome, teaching and worship with children with special needs

10 ways to belong

The Methodist Church, Count Everyone In, Urban Saints, and the Additional Needs Alliance, have collaborate to create a guide to help churches support children, young people and young adults with additional needs, and better enable everyone to belong in every church.

God on wheels: Disability Liberation and Spiritual Leadership

Interview with Rabbi Julia Watts Belser, Professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University

Ability Sunday video reflection

The Revd Katie Tupling reflects on Psalm 139, Ability Sunday, and her own faith and disability.

Celebration of different abilities service

Chester Diocese held a service online in 2021, in place of the usual service at the Cathedral, and the Revd Katie Tupling was one of the contributors.

Find out more

Church of England disability webpage
Barrier-Free Belonging: Deaf and disabled people are an essential part of the Church, and the Church of England is committed to ensuring the welcome, inclusion, and participation of all as one of its major goals.
The Archbishops’ Council, which sets the strategic goals for the Church of England, includes disability as one of the key areas in which it wants to improve so that people of all abilities can be full members of the Church.
Grove booklets on disability - worship and ethics
Katie Tupling has co-authored a Grove booklet entitled Worship and Disability: a Kingdom for all and authored a Grove booklet in the ethics series entitled Being Disabled, Being Human
Living with an invisible disability
A blog post by ordinand Sasha Braun, who shares her experience of living and studying at college with an invisible disability.
Oxford Diocesan Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
ODCD works with deaf and hard of hearing people to meet their spiritual, social and general needs, and to help give them a voice and full participation in church and society. We would love to hear from you if you or someone you know would like our support, or if you are interested in helping support the work of ODCD
Count Everyone In
"Our passion is to reach the UK’s 1.5 million adults with learning disabilities with the love of Jesus. Many are marginalised by society and even within the church because of their disability. We aim to inspire and equip God’s church to be welcoming and accessible to all."
Count Everyone In is run by Pete and Christine Winmill, living in West Berkshire and part of the church family at St Nic’s in Newbury.
Torch Trust
Our aims can be summarised as: enabling people with sight loss to discover Christian faith and lead fulfilling Christian lives. Towards this end Torch Trust provides Christian resources and activities for blind and partially sighted people worldwide.
Our services are offered to all who experience sight loss, of all faiths or none, and including those with sight loss who have other disabilities. Among our services, Torch provides Christian literature, including a free lending library and a range of magazines, in various accessible formats. We also promote Christian fellowship through over 60 local Groups across the UK.
Additional Needs Alliance
The ANA is here to help churches to include, support, create places of belonging for, and spiritually grow children, young people and young adults with additional needs or disabilities. Among our Members are many individuals and organisations that offer a range of excellent services and resources to assist churches and other groups working in this area to make a real difference for their community.
Open Ears
Open Ears is a non-denominational Christian charity for people who have various degrees of impaired hearing, mainly (but not exclusively) those who communicate orally, assisted by hearing aids or cochlear implants and lip-reading.
It aims to provide accessible fellowship, Bible teaching, prayer support and pastoral care, to produce informative literature and a quarterly magazine called Hearing Eye. We may also give a proportion of our donated income to specified Christian charities and other organisations involved in supporting people with hearing loss.
Through the Roof
Through the Roof is a Christian disability charity that changes the lives of disabled people around the world, and helps others to change lives too. We want to see everyone valued equally, fully belong, and able to contribute their gifts and skills. We do this in three ways:
  • Freedom – bringing the gift of a wheelchair or mobility aid and sharing the Gospel with disabled people in developing countries
  • Friendship – blessing disabled people with Christian friends through being part of our groups, holidays and Retreats
  • Faith – building our network of Roofbreakers and advocates through training and resources to ensure disabled people can belong and contribute
Down's Syndrome Association - language cards
'Language cards' is a resource which wants to help re-frame the language around Down's Syndrome. The resources can be downloaded as cards and posters, designed by Rebecca Hulbert.
Parents and Children Together
PACT is one of the UK’s leading independent adoption charities, placing children with secure and loving families and supporting them with specialist therapeutic support.
Their award-winning FACTS service includes counselling, Theraplay, creative art therapy and life story work which help children to overcome difficulties in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood which have resulted from early trauma and neglect.
Calibre Audio Library is a national charity providing a subscription-free service of unabridged audio books for adults and children with sight problems, dyslexia or other disabilities, who cannot read print. One of their guiding principles has always been to supply books in a format that can be played on ordinary household equipment.
Calibre lend audiobooks to over 14,000 members across the UK and EU and now in countries that have ratified the Marrakesh Treaty.
Livability is a disability charity that connects people with their communities: they tackle social isolation and the barriers that can cause this in the lives of disabled and vulnerable people. Through a wide range of disability, education, training and community services, Livability promotes inclusion and wellbeing for all.
Together, they work to see people take part, contribute and be valued. Livability puts the elements in place that all add up to connected lives and communities.
Building for the Future
Building for the Future is a Wokingham based, parent led charity providing activities, support and therapy for children with disabilities and/or additional needs and their families. We are based at Our House, our own fully accessible play centre, where families can meet, and all children are celebrated.
BftF was founded by Jane Holmes, and her Christian faith is evident in the ethos found within the charity. Her daughter Kitty is a disability activist and film maker.
Lyrics and Lunch
Lyrics and Lunch - based in Lancaster - is a friendly singing and lunch group which creates community for those living with dementia and their carers. They share fun, food and friendship in a relaxed and comfortable setting.
Their vision is to have churches running Lyrics and Lunch in more and more areas of the UK, serving people living with dementia and their carers by showing genuine care and compassion and gently sharing the love of God.

The Revd Katie Tupling

Disability advisor - part time


07442 762 998 (text/voice)

More about Katie...

Page last updated: Tuesday 29th November 2022 4:13 PM
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