I am responsible…when anyone,
anywhere reaches out for help,
I want the hand of A.A. to always be there.
And for that, I am responsible.
While there are no special A.A. members there are many members who have special needs. This would include those who may be hearing-, visually-, or speech-impaired, those who are homebound, chronically ill, those who use wheelchairs, walkers or crutches, and those who are developmentally disabled or who suffer from brain damage, stroke, etc. Whatever their
disability may be, it is hoped that they would never be excluded from A.A. meetings, Twelve Step work or A.A. service.
Special Needs/Accessibilities Committees are formed to help providing access to A.A. for those with special needs so that A.A. continues to be inclusive and never exclusive.
Some Special Needs/Accessibilities Committees serve parents with young children who may have limited access to A.A. meetings. Many A.A. members do not have an issue in getting to a meeting and they have a wide choice of meetings on a daily basis.
Imagine… there is only one meeting a day or a week that is open to you. Imagine if you are at this meeting and many A.A.s are reluctant to approach you. Or that there is only one meeting a week which has a wheelchair ramp, but it is snow-covered and inaccessible to you. You may be sober 30 or more years and eager to share in service and carrying the message, but you are stuck home because of some physical challenges. Or A.A. literature may be hard for you to understand because, for any number of reasons, you read at a third grade level. Or you may want to get involved in Twelfth Step work but you don’t have access to the Area Service Office because of a few steps.
You may now have an idea of what it is like to be an A.A. member who is developmentally disabled, chronically ill, in a wheelchair, on crutches, elderly, homebound or speech-, hearing-, or visually-impaired. Like everyone else these A.A. members just want to be treated equally, yet a six-inch step can be an insurmountable obstacle.
A locked access door, a blocked ramp or parking problem can make it impossible to get to a meeting. We may take for granted our physical and mental health but, if we were to experience the daily challenges of those with special needs, we might have a different point of view. We may not require Special Needs Twelfth Step service today, but one woman describes herself as a “T.A.P.—a Temporarily Able-Bodied Person.” What can be done to make A.A. readily accessible to all?
The following information is to assist those interested in reaching out to those with special needs. There is a wide variety of other Special Needs material, including literature in Braille, American Sign Language, and easy-to-read pamphlets in English, as well as in other languages, in regular and large print.