Footsteps 108 - Living with disability

Footsteps 108 - Living with disability

Footsteps 108 is full of practical advice on how to make our churches and communities more inclusive of people living with disabilities.

Editor's note

Jude Collins

I have an impairment, but I don’t have a disability. This is because my impairment (poor sight) is corrected by glasses, so it has very little impact on what I can and cannot do. 

However, without my glasses I would have struggled at school, and I might not have been able to get a job. Not being able to see properly would have affected my confidence. Perhaps my friends would have left me out because I could not join in their activities. If I had not received the support I needed (glasses and contact lenses) I would probably have experienced significant social and economic restrictions. I would have been living with a disability. 

Throughout this edition of Footsteps we are reminded that disability is mostly caused by barriers in society, not by specific physical, intellectual or emotional impairments. These barriers might be very obvious: for example, steps into a building and no ramp. But often it is people’s attitudes that are the problem, and many people with disabilities face misunderstanding and discrimination on a daily basis. 

If these barriers are identified and broken down, our churches and communities will be more vibrant, diverse and inclusive. Everyone will have access to essential services such as water and sanitation and no one will be left behind in times of disaster. People with hidden disabilities, such as depression, will feel valued and understood. 

Speaking about the church Paul says, ‘God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it’ (1 Corinthians 12: 24–26). 

Let us celebrate our different skills and abilities, honour each other and rejoice!

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Image above shows Kazol Rekha from Bangladesh who is a leader in her community. Photo: Artwise/CDD/CBM

Footsteps articles

It is important to ensure that people with all kinds of physical, emotional and intellectual impairments are able to join in with church activities. Illustration from Petra Röhr-Rouendaal, Where there is no artist (second edition)

Bible study: Breaking down barriers

What are the barriers faced by people with disabilities in church?

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Children's zone: Enough land for everyone

Children’s zone: Seeing and hearing differently

Games to help children understand what it might feel like not being able to see or hear (PDF).

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Enjoying Footsteps in Liberia. Photo: Andrew Philip/Tearfund


Thirty years of Footsteps and a ‘knotty problem’.

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The Gaibandha model puts people with disabilities at the centre of disaster risk reduction. Photo: Centre for Disability in Development (CDD)

Disability and disasters

Putting people with disabilities at the centre of disaster risk reduction

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Delegates at the second Engage Disability national conference. Photo: Engage Disability Network, India

Engaging with disability in India

An inspiring example of a national movement for change

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Micheline Kamba speaking about disability inclusion at a World Council of Churches conference. Photo: World Council of Churches

Interview: I am not sick

Dr Kamba speaks about how God’s love changed her life

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Encouraging women with psychosocial disabilities to talk about their concerns. Photo: Tearfund’s partner

Listening to understand

Spending time with people helps them to feel valued and appreciated

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Book shelves with books


A selection of books, websites and training materials about living with disability

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Churches can provide crucial support for families who are looking after loved ones with severe disabilities. Photo: Brenda Darke

Room for everyone: inclusive church

Ideas to help our church communities become more welcoming and inclusive

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From despair to hope – Jit is now fully involved in society again and is enjoying a happy family life. Photo: The Leprosy Mission Nepal

Self-help in Nepal

Living confidently despite stigma and discrimination

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Simple walking aids such as this one in Tanzania can help children with mobility problems gain independence. Photo: Dieter Telemans/CCBRT

Striding towards independence

Simple aids to help children who find it difficult to walk (PDF).

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Weekly physiotherapy offered by GTOC is helping to improve the mobility of many children with cerebral palsy. Photo: Barbara Almond

Taking action in Malawi

Supporting children with cerebral palsy

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Small toilets with narrow doors can cause problems for people with limited mobility. Photo: Ralph Hodgson/Tearfund

Toilets, water, health and dignity

Practical ways to improve access to toilets and safe water

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Kazol is now a leader in her community. Photo: Artwise/CDD/CBM

Understanding disability

Disability and poverty are closely linked in a vicious cycle, but the cycle can be broken

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