Including Persons with Disabilities in Faith Communities
Fleming, Lindsay Anne
This exploratory study used both a quantitative and qualitative research approach to acquire information regarding the application of principles and practices of inclusion common to our childcare and education settings in communities of faith throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality. Outcomes of this study were to a) gain knowledge of the availability and accessibility of local faith communities b) determine rates and areas of participation for individuals with disabilities and c) explore faith leaders’ views of disability and inclusion. Faith leaders (n =33) completed a faith participation survey developed by the researcher. Responses to the open-ended questions on the survey were evaluated and coded for emerging themes using qualitative methodologies, while close-ended survey responses were coded and analyzed using quantitative techniques. Results indicated that although individuals with disabilities were participating across several areas, a significant participation gap existed between individuals with disabilities and their non-disabled peers within local communities of faith. Respondents shared views of disability and inclusion that were in keeping with those expressed and favoured by the broader community. Their perceptions of barriers to inclusion were also consistent with those of previous research findings, but did not necessarily reflect the opinions expressed by individuals with disabilities. Highlighted was the general lack of programs and policies developed specifically for individuals with disabilities. Emphasized was the need for further awareness and knowledge related to this topic.
Children with Disabilities , Education , Church Work , Nova Scotia