Accessibility and Disability

"we have a firm commitment that in Shambhala Society access needs to be provided for seniors and people with disabilities to all activities, programs, practices, any teachings they would otherwise be able to receive, community events, etc. and this access needs to be as safe, workable, uplifted, and dignified as access is for anyone else."

The Mandala Council trys navigating SMC in wheelchairsMembers of the Mandala Council try to use wheelchairs as part of an accessibility and diversity exercise designed to raise consciousness of these issues in our community.

Accessibility & Disability Documents & Reports :

You will need Adobe Acrobat to read the PDF files below.

Links to all Accessibility Best Practices postings

Report for the Sakyong’s Council, 5th April 2010 (Word Doc)
from the Shambhala Accessibility and Disability Working Group

First Annual Report on Accessibility and Disability in Shambhala - February, 2009 (pdf file)
Includes "Summary of Accessibility in Shambhala", "Accessibility Initiatives of Individual Shambhala Centers", "Shambhala aspirations on diversity, accessibility and compassionate conduct", "Sakyong's Letter on the Aspirations", etc.

Shambhala Accessibility Statement(pdf file)
The Statement adopted by the Sakyong's Council on 24th October 2005, declaring the View and Practice of accessibility in Shambhala. Highly recommended reading!

Accessibility Guidelines for Shambhala Center (pdf file)
In order to manifest the view and practices in the Accessibility Statement the Guidelines are designed as a resource for Shambhala Centers to help them assess their accessibility and make plans to improve it. The document poses questions that centers should consider as they look into this issue. These Guidelines are divided into phases, that centers are asked to use to evaluate the accessibility of their facilities, then provides help in coming up viable options for any areas that need more attention. It is suggested that centers start by asking their sangha what needs there are now.

Shambhala Diversity & Accessibility Best Practices (password required)
Part of this is “Policy Documents and Resources”, which now includes extensive “Additional Resources for Phases of Accessibility Guidelines” to help accommodating a range of disabilities. There is also “Share Best Practices” where members have contributed information on various ideas, initiatives, etc. and ways they have accommodated different situations and requests that have come up.

The Shambhala Diversity Web page

Shambhala Aspirations on Diversity, Accessibility and Compassionate Conduct
A statement of our aspiration to create a society that is open, inclusive and welcoming of diversity. In English, French and Spanish.

Notes on Diversity and Accessibility [by Dan Hessey]
A treatise on the Shambhala Buddhist view of diversity and accessibility.

Recommendations for Improving Diversity and Accessibility
More than 70 recommendations for embedding diversity and accessibility into all aspects of Shambhala society.

Resources for Improving Diversity and Accessibility
More than 100 resources for improving diversity and accessibility, including areas such as diversity training, communication and cultural competency.

Conference Call Minutes & Notes

June 14, 2008 Accessibility and Disability Working Group minutes

March 13, 2010 Accessibility and Disability Working Group minutes

Accessibility and Disability Articles, Talks And Teachings & Notes

Karuna Talk
"Karuna Talk is an e-mail group for sangha members interested in taking illness as the path. The list includes people with chronic illnesses or disabilities, health professionals working with people with chronic health problems, teachers and meditation instructors, and other interested members of the Shambhala sangha. The focus is on the development of programs and support services for our community, for people dealing with issues such as isolation, loss of livelihood, stigmatization, depression, and physical pain".
This is a excellent resource, highly, highly, recommended.

Being with What Is: Teaching Meditation to People with Chronic Pain and Disabilities [by Naomi Weisman] in Turning Wheel, Spring 2005, p. 23-25.
"It's a privilege to be working with people who, in spite of extremely difficult physical circumstances, manage to show up for the group and are touched by our teaching."

Going Beyond Bias [by Sangyum Agness Au]
A talk on diversity awareness and bias presented at the Joint Mandala Council and Sakyong's Council Meeting.

I Am Old [by Lee Lipp] Turning Wheel, Winter 2005, p. 25.
"I feel caught in our cultural myth that aging is a failure, that if I only did it right I could avoid old age, even avoid death."

Widening Our Circle: Being an Ally to People with Chronic Illnesses [by Diana Lion] Turning Wheel, Summer 2007.

Links to Other Accessibility and Disability Resources & Notes

Checklist for Barrier Removal
A document made available by the ADA, which can be downloaded from the ADA Document Portal at In the left-hand column under Facility Access. In the "Accessibility Guidelines" this is part of what is suggested that centers use to check the accessibility of their Shambhala Center.

Unitarian Universalist web site "Disability 101
This site is an excellent resource for ways to accommodate and getting more information on: Visual Impairments, Hearing Impairments, Learning Disabilities, Cognitive Impairment, Mobility Impairments, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Psychiatric Disabilities, Invisible Disabilities. It also has links to many additional resources including Disability Etiquette.

Accessible Faith: A Technical Guide for Accessibility in Houses of Worship (pdf)
Retirement Research Foundation congregation's guide to accessibility, edited by sangha member Tom Golz while he was at Inspired Parnterships. Has a great deal of helpful information including "Accessibly Solutions for Houses of Worship", which includes specific designs, etc, for removing physical barriers and information on removing auditory and visual barriers. Also information on organizing, funding and many other related issues.

National Organization on Disability
Select Religious Participation (left column, near the top). This page contains many resources for accommodating seniors and people with disabilities. Also, scroll down on the page to Learn More. Select N.O.D. Interfaith Guides. This page describes the book That All May Worship. This book assists congregations, national faith groups, and seminaries in welcoming people with disabilities

Accessibility & Inclusion
An Interfaith Resource List

Access Board New Guidelines for Accessible Design (pdf)
This document provides guidelines for builders.

Additional ADA web site
Select Publications, then New Construction Checklist and Survey Forms

International Codes Council
Guidelines for Accessible Useable Buildings and Facilities. ICC ANSI A117.1 (2003 or 1998). Under Technical Publications by Topic, select Accessibility. Or call 1-800-768-4452 to order a copy.

Mental Health Resources

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
National Help Line (10-5 Eastern Time Zone): 800 950 6264
For families touched by childhood-onset brain disorders:
NAMI national congress updates:

Framework of Support
Over the past decade the Canadian Mental Health Association has supported development of a "framework of support" that attempt to describe the practical issues involved in implementing a recovery model.

Partners in Recovery
Adult System of Care Conference 2000 by Anna Huskey

National Empowerment Center
Recovery is real and this website is filled with practical information that will help you recover if you have been labeled with a mental illness

What Are the Characteristics of a Person Who has Recovered from Mental Illness?
By Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.

Multimedia Recovery Resources


That All May Worship
Part of the National Organization on Disability web site,; this page contains many resources for accommodating seniors and people with disabilities. For information on the book “That All May Worship” under “The Religion and Disability Program…”, click on the link in “Several publications, including our…”. This takes you too “N.O.D. Interfaith Guides”. That page describes the book That All May Worship and how to order it. The book assists congregations, national faith groups, and seminaries in welcoming people with disabilities.

Accessibility Audit for Churches
2nd ed. (1995). Reeves, Kathy (ed.). Health and Welfare Ministries Program Department, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church. Available from their Service Center

Recovering Our Sense of Value After Being Labeled Mentally Ill
Deegan, P. (1993) Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, 31, 4, p.7-11.