God calls all of his people to join him in in his Kingdom. We here at Friendship Ministries have developed Bible studies so that we can pass on the good news of Jesus Christ to our spiritual brothers and sisters with disabilities. Tasked with the crucial mission to transmit this important message, Friendship Ministries is constantly finding ways to be make our curriculum more and more accessible. After years of continuous research and development, we have found that accessible curriculum is:
Prepared. Before any accommodating measures are taken, it’s important to understand an individual’s disability. Once the situation is properly assessed, then the proper mechanism can be applied. We encourage Friendship group leaders to take stock of their group’s disabilities and gifts before beginning a new study.
Multisensory. Multisensory education is the method of teaching that engages more than one sense at a time. This method can be extremely effective when working with people with physical and/or mental disabilities. With the loss of one sense, engaging the participant in his or her other senses creates an inclusive learning environment. The TOGETHER curriculum is multisensory and incorporates reading aloud, videos and music, and even interactive activities to engage as many senses as possible.
Adaptable. The quality of a learning environment can make a huge impact on the overall learning experience – for better or for worse. To make learning a fun and safe space for everybody, it’s important to think about everyone’s individual needs. Providing a preview of the learning setting can be helpful for those with anxiety. A quiet place would be appropriate for someone with sensory processing issues. These are just a few of the things to think about when choosing the learning environment. The TOGETHER study is especially adaptable because it is completely digital and can be utilized in a wide variety of settings.
Technological. Advancements in technology have made education more accessible and inclusive than ever. For example, video chat could help individuals with severe anxiety or physical disabilities participate in Bible studies alongside other group members. For individuals with vision impairments, there are applications that read the Bible out loud. In Friendship’s TOGETHER curriculum, groups are able to stream music and videos that enhance the lesson. The fact that the studies are available completely online also means that it is cost-effective and easy to transport.
Respectful. Speaking to a person who is 55 years old as if he or she were a small child is not appropriate. Although teaching methods may differ from person to person, everybody should be treated with the same amount of respect and dignity. We have many resources on our website that counsel group leaders and mentors on how to properly care for all of their group members.
You can visit togethersmallgroups.org to learn more about how TOGETHER was designed—and can be further adapted—to be accessible to people of all abilities.