I was walking with my kids a few weeks ago, and they asked me why the ends of the sidewalks are bumpy. I knew it was so that everyone would feel that they’re about to enter the street, but I didn’t know the whole story so I decided to look into it.
It turns out that “truncated domes” are just one type of tactile paving that spread around the globe from Japan, and is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since 1991, cities have been retrofitting sidewalks and modifying schools, hospitals and public buildings to comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
What’s so striking about this is that all of the empathy and expense is required BEFORE accessibility can be realized. Think about seeing someone unknowingly walk into traffic or struggle to climb the steps outside a medical building. It’s impossible to offer the dignity and honor of true accessibility if we’re reacting in the moment we realize that it’s lacking. As a society, we had to open our eyes and our hearts to how people were being excluded and intentionally take action to correct the shortcomings moving forward.
Isaiah prophetically provided a peak into God’s accessibility design:
“Clear the way through the wilderness
for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”
– Isaiah 40:3-5
That’s our kind of accessibility! Let’s be on the constant lookout for any tight curves and steep hills and rough places that crop up in our gatherings. And whenever we see anything that gets in the way of accessible worship, let’s join in the preparation work necessary to straighten and flatten and smooth out. Like truncated domes, most people will never notice or realize the full significance of our prep work. But the Holy Spirit just might make it the welcome mat for a special someone. And in our readiness, they will experience the love of God.
Spend some time considering:
- How could this be applied in our prayer before and during worship?
- How does this affect our selection of songs and keys?
- How does this change our approach to rehearsals, personal practice and instrument maintenance?
- When is the last time you noticed something “get in the way” during one of our worship gatherings? What was it?
- What needed to be done in that moment? Did you or anyone address or correct it?
- What needs to be done to prevent it from happening again?
- How can you improve your sensitivity and empathy toward those who might feel excluded in our gatherings?