“If persons with disabilities are to become equal partners in the Christian community, injustices must be eliminated and ignorance and apathy replaced by increased sensitivity and warm acceptance. The leaders and the general membership of the Church must educate themselves to appreciate fully the contribution persons with disabilities can make to the Church's spiritual life.”

Pastoral Statement on Persons with Disabilities (USCCB)

While we are called to meet the specific needs of those with disabilities, it is incredibly important to create a culture of inclusion within our parishes. Only when all are fully welcomed to participate, will the Body of Christ be complete.  In order to provide support resources for persons with disabilities and their families, we have categorized information by disability as listed below.  Each section has its own individual page that is loaded with updated resources and materials for persons with disabilities, families, and caregivers.

Today, Catholics across the United States are becoming more aware of ASD which has led to effective teaching styles, accommodations, and education in parishes across the United States. Adults with ASD are writing about their experiences in ministry and Catholic publishers are creating faith formation curriculum that engages different learning needs. Behavior Analysts are working with diocesan directors to help individuals with ASD meaningfully participate across the life-span in Liturgy, and Catholic parents are sharing their input on the needs of individuals more profoundly affected by ASD. CLICK HERE to be taken to our ASD Resource Page.

Today, there are accommodations that help individuals who are blind or who have low vision meaningfully participate in the life of the Church as students, clergy members, pastoral leaders, teachers, and more. Parishes can help to promote the meaningful participation of these individuals by offering parish materials in braille, in large print, and in electronic format. It is important to be aware of the accommodations available for people who are blind or who have low vision so that parishes can benefit from the vocations of more individuals. CLICK HERE to be taken to our Resource Page for Persons with Blindness and Vision Loss.

Deafness & Deaf Culture: Across all age groups, approximately 600,000 people in the United States are Deaf (Gallaudet University). Many people do not consider Deafness to be a disability. Since Deaf people have their own language with distinctive cultural and linguistic features, many Deaf people consider their communicative abilities to be fully thriving. There are a number of dioceses and archdioceses in the United States that have Deaf Apostolates or diocesan offices which engage Deaf culture. These offices coordinate the active participation of Deaf people in weekly liturgies, the sacraments, faith formation, and youth ministry. In our Church today, there are ordained priests and deacons that are Deaf, Deaf Catholic Pilgrimages, and homilies available in American Sign Language online.

While accessibility for the Deaf community is becoming more common within the Church, there is still an urgent need for improvement! The National Catholic Office for the Deaf estimates that 96% of Catholics are unchurched. Even though Deafness is not always considered a disability, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability still engages in the topic of Deafness because the Church desires the meaningful participation of Deaf people. Captioned Videos, Sign language interpreters, Deaf Masses, and Diocesan Deaf Apostolates are all initiatives that can promote this meaningful participation. CLICK HERE to be taken to our Resource Page for the Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing.

Hard-of-Hearing: Some people may consider their auditory difference to be a disability if it prevents them from communicating fully. These individuals may have cochlear implants or may use assistive listening devices. People who lose their hearing later in life because of trauma or old age experience hearing loss which they may or may not consider to be a disability. Captioned videos, American Sign Language interpreters, and assisted listening devices are all examples of accommodations that may help to promote the participation of people who are hard of hearing or have hearing loss. CLICK HERE to be taken to our Resource Page for the Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing.

Developmental disabilities are impairments in physical, learning, language, or behavior that begin during the developmental stage and typically last throughout a person’s lifespan (CDC). An example of a developmental disability is cerebral palsy, which is a motor disability that prevents a person’s ability to move their muscles (CDC)​. Developmental disabilities include–but are not limited to–intellectual disabilities which limit a person’s adaptive functioning in conceptual, practical, and social domains (APA). Intellectual disabilities include autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It is important for parishes and families to not make assumptions about the capabilities of a person with a developmental or intellectual disability since the capabilities and limitations of each person with these conditions varies widely. CLICK HERE to be taken to our Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Resource Page.

Recently, our culture has become more attuned to the need for programs and resources that foster mental health. Respecting the mental health of an individual is vital to respecting their full personhood. The Church is blessed to be a source of comfort and hope to many suffering from mental illness. We aim to create environments in our parishes that encourage healing and hope among those with Mental Health issues. CLICK HERE to be taken to our Mental Illness Resource Page.

Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request. Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.

Since physical disabilities vary greatly in type and severity, finding the right resources and accommodations for a person with a physical disability requires particular individualized attention. Types of physical disabilities include traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, and spina bifida. This page has resources such as support groups, access surveys, and stories which may help to promote the meaningful participation of persons with physical disabilities in the life of the Church. CLICK HERE to be taken to our Physical Disabilities Resource Page.

"Each person is created in God’s image, yet there are variations in individual abilities. Positive recognition of these differences discourages discrimination and enhances the unity of the Body of Christ."
Welcome & Justice
for Persons with Disabilities
A Framework of Access and Inclusion

Contact Us:

Bob Wurzelbacher

Office Director

Lisa Averion

Associate Director