In a church and faith community setting, full participation is made up of many factors. As a faith or parish community, we are required and called to provide opportunities for people to participate. This means we must make our community as welcoming and friendly as possible. We need to think about how our parish or faith community is organised. We need to think about the resources we provide in our parish community. We need to think about the ways we engage with the wider community.
Some ways to provide Full Participation in your Parish include:
- Active and meaningful engagement. This means a person is able to partake in an activity or event – during Mass, this means full access to what is being said. For this to occur the right supports will be in place. For example, a PowerPoint that provides the words of the Mass (including the homily), a hearing loop or Auslan interpreters provide Deaf and Hard of Hearing people with the opportunity to be engaged in the experience of the Mass. It is important to remember that not all Deaf and Hard of Hearing people use Auslan, and not all Deaf and Hard of Hearing people use hearing aids. Asking the Deaf and Hard of Hearing person what they would like to use for accessing the Mass is very important!
- Access. This means how we enter into something. So, how do we get into our church or parish buildings? How do we provide ‘open doors’? This might mean physical access, such as ramps or sensory access, such as Braille and large print, Auslan interpreters, PowerPoint, hearing loops, homilies and parish bulletins available in print and on line.
- Responsibility. Most people enjoy helping out and having a job to do in the parish or faith community setting is an important part of belonging. This gives people a sense of worth. Offer all people in your community the opportunity to be involved in some way. This might be as a Welcomer, Singing, Reading the Good News, Offertory Procession, Collectors, looking after the Gardens or decorating the church… the list is endless!!
- Supporting others. We all have gifts and some people have gifts that involve caring and supporting people within the parish setting or community. We need to be aware of how we can help someone who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing to take on a role of supporting someone.
- Social connection. It is vital that everyone has the opportunity to connect with their parish community. This connection may need help by providing Auslan interpreters and other communication devices.
It is our duty by our Baptism to provide opportunities for full participation.