Question:          What is a disability?

Answer:    According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, a disability is (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities; or (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities include breathing, seeing, hearing, walking, communicating, learning, taking care of one’s self, manual tasks, and working.

Question:          What is a physical impairment as defined by Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Answer:    A physical impairment is defined by ADA as "any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine."

Neither ADA nor the regulations that implement it list all the diseases or conditions that are covered, because it would be impossible to provide a comprehensive list, given the variety of possible impairments. (http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/disabilities/physical/definition.htm)

Question: Is there another definition for disability?

Answer:    Yes, as defined in the Social Security Act, a "disability" is the "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." It's important to understand that not everyone uses the same definition as Social Security. Your doctor, hospital, and even other governmental agencies will use different definitions, which can lead to confusion for many claimants. For example, some agencies’ definition of "disability" allows for partial disability. Social Security, however, does not provide for partial disability. (http://www.disabilitycasereview.com/common-disabilities).

Question: Since there are so many physical impairments in the world, how does the North American Division plan to respond to all the conditions?

Answer:    The North American Division groups the disabilities into

                  seven major categories: (1) cognitive; (2) hearing;

                  (3) hidden; (4) mobility; (5) mental/psychiatric;

                  (6) speech; and (7) visual.

Question: How can I identify a physical impairment with only the seven major categories?

Answer:    Cognitive: A cognitive disability affects a person's ability to comprehend what is seen or heard, and then infer information from social subtleties and body language. Cognitive disabilities may include, but are not limited to, autism, learning disabilities, Down syndrome, and traumatic brain injuries.

Hearing: A hearing disability affects a person's ability to hear sounds and, in some instances, the ability to discriminate speech. Hearing disabilities may range from mild to profound hearing loss. This does not include individuals who are culturally deaf. There is a ministry specific to Deaf people.

Hidden: A hidden disability is a physical condition that is not easily observed. This term encompasses many conditions including, but not limited to, arthritis, epilepsy, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and conditions related to obesity.

Mobility: A mobility disability limits an individual's ability to perform the activities of daily living. The individual may need assistance in moving from one place to another.

Mental/Psychiatric: A psychiatric disability is a mental disorder that may affect daily living. This may include, but is not limited to, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and phobias.

Speech: A speech disability affects a person's ability to communicate and can be characterized as language and voice disorders, articulation errors, dysfluency, or stuttering.

Visual: A visual disability affects a person's ability to see. Visual disabilities range from limited vision, glaucoma, cataracts, to blindness.

Question: Can you give me an idea of some other disabilities?

Answer:    This is close to impossible to do. Try this website for a list of disabilities under social security (http://www.disabilitycasereview.com/common-disabilities).

Question: What are the most common disabilities claims?

Answer:    The ten most common disability claims under The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act ADAAA) 2008 will be discussed on the following website, along with any relevant case law discussing reasonable accommodation or undue hardship and any other pertinent information or guidance. Try this website: (http://www.legalbrief.com/kirshman.html).

Question: Is Disabilities Ministries a separate department?

Answer:    Disabilities Ministries is not a stand-alone ministry in

                  the church. In fact, it is part of Personal Ministries and

                  Is listed under the personal ministries. Disabilities

                  Ministries should interact with every other ministry

                  because people with disabilities should work in the

                  based on their abilities not disabilities.

QuestionWhat is Disabilities Ministries?

Answer:    There is no easy answer. In action, Disabilities Ministries is collectively blending the talents and skills of all people (people with disabilities and non-disabled persons) to ensure that the mission to reach all people is achieved.

It is a ministry of the church that educates and sensitizes its members so they can reach out to people with disabilities.

It is a ministry that shares the gospel and empowers individuals in all areas of church life so they can evangelize and invite all people to accept the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Disabilities Ministries at its best is remembering people are people. The mandate from Jesus is “go and teach all.” With that said, those who know Jesus have the privilege of introducing Him to “whosoever” regardless of their ability.

Question:  Who is my contact to get involved in Disabilities Ministries?

Answer:   General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

                 Special Needs Ministries - Jonathan Kuntaraf

                 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

                 Liaison for Deaf Ministries – Larry Evans

                 North American Division

                 Disabilities Ministries – Charlotte L. V. Thoms

Atlantic Union Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Charlotte L. V. Thoms

Bermuda Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Pauline DeShield

                 Assistant – Patrice Smith

                 Greater New York Conference

                 Deaf Ministries – Grace Ashley

Southern New England Conference

                 Deaf Ministries – Jessica McGowen

Columbia Union Conference

Allegheny East Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Colin Braithwaite

                 Southern Virginia Coordinator

                 Disabilities Ministries – Deborah Taylor-Whitfield

                 Allegheny West Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Sharon Bowen

Lake Union Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Claudette Thompson

Lake Region Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Claudette Thompson

Mid-America Union Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Thompson Kay

Central States Conference

                Disabilities Ministries – Yvonne Johnson

               Christian Record Services – Jose Martinez

North Pacific Union Conference

               Disabilities Ministries – Alphonso McCarthy

Pacific Union Conference

               Disabilities Ministries – Arnold Trujillo

Southeast California Conference

               Disabilities Ministries – Gerald Penick

Southern Union Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Jim Davidson

South Atlantic Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Rosemary Graham

South Central Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Nettie Henderson                

Southwestern Union Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries

                 Southwest Region Conference

                 Disabilities Ministries – Eunice Bailey

Question: Who do I contact to start a Disabilities Ministries in my church?

Answer:    Contact AdventSource for the Disabilities Ministries

                  literature. The Quick Start Guide and Handbook are

                  excellent resources to give you an overview of the


Question: What are the goals of Disabilities Ministries?

Answer:    (1) Educate and equip coordinators/directors to study

                  the needs of persons with disabilities and the

appropriate methods to affect ministries.

(2) Promote the inclusion of qualified persons with

disabilities as members of various committees and

forums as well as their availability for volunteer

service opportunities within the local church.

(3) Promote the development, adaptation, and

communication of resources for nurture and

evangelism for those with disabilities.

(4) Encourage the equipping and employment of

individuals with disabilities within and without the

church structure.

Question: What can I do right now to start of ministry including

                  disabled people?

Answer:    Look for opportunities to encourage, educate,

                  accommodate, and make the gospel and the

                  facility accessible.

Encourage people with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of church life, such as in volunteer service positions, on the church board, and on other committees. In addition, you will want to develop recreational activities that will enhance the interaction to include members and visitors with disabilities.

Educate the congregation in the seven major disability groups, current trends, and changes in laws, and make available resources regarding disabilities to develop a supportive environment of informed believers.

Accommodate God’s family by being inclusive in principle and practice. You can promote the accommodation of people with disabilities by providing services such as transportation to church events and evangelistic meetings. Accommodations should be specific to the needs of the individual. Additional examples are sign language interpreters, allowing the use of service animals, or providing large print handouts of printed materials. You can also conduct surveys and use the results to provide resources to enhance the worship experience and accommodate the specific needs of people with disabilities in your congregation.

Accessible churches, camp grounds, schools, and information (large print, Braille, easy English, sign language interpreter) are inviting and make everyone feel welcome regardless of their physical or mental condition. You can help ensure your church’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and its current amendments by eliminating barriers (architectural and attitudinal) so structures and programs are easily available to all people. You can also encourage the full inclusion of people with disabilities in your church’s programs and services.

Question: What are the duties of the Disabilities Ministries Director?

Answer:    The Disabilities Ministries Handbook available through

                  AdventSource has a comprehensive list. To start begin with prayer. The Disabilities Ministries (DM) director serves as an active member of the Personal Ministries council. It is best to form a committee to focus on outreach to people with disabilities within the church and community. Look for ways to make your church building more accessible. The other duties as outlined in the Handbook are more detailed and will help you create an atmosphere that will challenge people with disabilities as they use their talents and skills for the cause of Jesus Christ.

Question: I don’t feel qualified although my passion is high. What would you recommend how I evaluate if I am qualified?

Answer:    God does the equipping. If you feel the desire to minister in this area, you are probably qualified. However, read, read, read. Become acquainted with as much information as possible. Check your local public library. Contact the local Social Security Office for materials related to disabilities. Talk to individuals with disabilities who may assist you in understanding their needs. Network, attend seminars, and become known for your passion.

Question: Can you give me some ideas or practical tips for Disabilities Ministries?

Answer:    Yes, contact AdventSource and purchase the Disabilities Ministries Handbook for Practical

Tips from A to Z. the Handbook also has activities from A to Z, samples for a Disabilities Ministries Awareness Sabbath, church survey, report forms, letters of interest, instruction sheet for church assessment, assessing your church, and a sample budget. (http://www.adventsource.org).

Question: Are the resources at AdventSource in Spanish?

Answer:    Yes. The Quick Start Guide for Disabilities Ministries is In Spanish.

Question: Does the General Conference, Division, Union, or Conference give money for projects like ramps?

Answer:    Not currently. The church promises to provide resources and guidance to churches who implement a DM.         

Question: Why haven’t I heard that the church has this ministry before?

Answer:    You can help to spread the word. You can get involved. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. If you have a gift you believe will build the ministry, contact your director.