Committees hear testimony on creating a Committee on Disability and Deaf Inclusion, expanding childcare at General Convention

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Jun 26, 2024

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] The deputies’ and bishops’ legislative committees on Accessibility & Inclusion heard testimony June 26 on two resolutions:

  • D080, which would create a Committee on Disability and Deaf Inclusion; and
  • D081, to expand the childcare provided during General Convention.

D080 follows recommendations made by the Task Force on Disability & Deaf Access, which was created by General Convention in 2018.

In his testimony, the Rev. Richard Mahaffy, president of the Episcopal Conference of the Deaf, asked that the resolution be amended to specify the inclusion of two members of the Deaf community on the new committee and also that his organization, which was created in 1881, have a link on The Episcopal Church website. Two sign language interpreters helped members of the Deaf community who were testifying and observing, and committee members, to understand one another.

After committee debate, the resolution was amended to change the number of proposed task force members and to specify that members include the Deaf community. It also changed the budget request for the committee’s work over the next three years from $3,000 to $10,000 to include the costs of sign language interpretation.

Deputy Erica Pomerenk of Colorado, with one of her children in a backpack sling, testified about why she wrote D081. She noted that while childcare and the children’s program is wonderful, she said, it isn’t offered in the days before the start of General Convention when deputies and others need to be present. Parents pay between $240 and $350 per child – there are discounts for early registrations, she said – and the remainder of the $90,000 cost is covered by the budget.

Some of the resolution’s language was changed before members recommended it be adopted with those amendments.

Both resolutions now move to the House of Deputies for consideration.