How can I help de- isolate the Deaf Community from attending Church?

How can I help de- isolate the deaf Community from attending Church?

So there I was in a Chemist (Pharmacist) in England. I had recently commenced learning British Sign Language, but knew very little. The Pharmacist looked flustered and was waving her arms wildly at a customer in front of her…I don’t know why I stopped to take more notice but, as I heard her say “no! no! go away!” I realised the distressed customer was deaf.
I ran after her,and desperately tried to communicate with my beginners ability….”me just started to learn sign language…not good…but help can I?” She breathed a sigh of relief and then started hanging out her tongue…holding up two fingers on each hand like claws dangling down……..got it!!! “Dog?? something about your dog “(whom she held in her arms) Ok, I can do this…..um ….dog???. She began grooming her hair, then pointing to her dog! I ran into The Pharmacist’s again and asked if there was a dog groomers in the area? She said “Oh yes, just drive round the back of this shop and you will find it!” “Thankyou!” I said “That’s all the deaf lady was trying to ask you just now. I will tell her.”
I felt cross, and relieved all at the same time. I went back outside and directed the deaf lady, who broke out into a huge smile, and gave me a big hug. (Score one for Jesus!)

I walked home thinking….”Don’t we do this to deaf people too? By not making it possible for them to go to a church and get good communication, translation, and fellowship with Holy Spirit?” As a result, I began a coffee morning for the deaf at my Church, and offered Interpretation of worship songs at least, and fellowship, until I was competent enough to Interpret a sermon.

The deaf cope in a grossly ignorant world to their needs. I heard it said “Blindness cuts you off from the world, but deafness cuts you off from people.” Both are horrible, yet the deaf and blind learn to cope magnificently….let’s help a bit. Most of our problem is embarrassment, like the Pharmacist…but if you can play charades or mime a bit, YOU CAN DO IT!
M.Daigle - deaf guy april.6.2010No one should be isolated or cut off from hearing the Gospel and just how much God loves them. Most deaf people attend a fellowship or Christian Service at their Deaf Club, but this is still isolating them from the rest of the Body of Christ. Let’s get out there and integrate with them, and bring them back into our midst…I know Jesus would.

Linda Wells – Deaf Signing Network Coordinator

Cartoon reference: Daigle, M. (2010, April 6) That Deaf Guy. [Cartoon] Retrieved from http://www.thatdeafguy.com/?p=118

Deaf, not Stupid – How to Include the Deaf in the Body of Christ and Dance Ministries

sign-language_help_800x600-590x410So….there I am minding my own business Interpreting for a deaf man in his forties…..SUDDENLY he dissolves in tears! Oh Lord what did I do?
I sat repentantly before him as he fought for composure. Gently he lifts his head and says “I just heard music for the first time.”
“Whaaaat? You are deaf….what do you mean?”
“Because you used my language of sign,and your gift of movement as you interpreted….I began to HEAR music.”

THAT was my beginning on a journey adoring the deaf community, their tenacity to survive in a world totally insensitive to their genius to communicate and comprehend a world who makes little provision for their hearing loss. I LEARNED that the deaf “HEAR with their Eyes” brilliantly!

So too, do the hearing. They just don’t know it. When we make visible the sounds that hearing people are familiar with in worship, their hearts are impacted more deeply. They see and hear at the same time and it is a double whammy for their heart.

We read body language…but the deaf do it best. You just “know” if someone is happy,angry or depressed.

We look closer at a shimmering lake at night, with lights reflecting…..you will hear a “sound” in your soul.

I once had a boss frustratingly tell me a deaf employee got upset because he couldn’t understand what his instructions were.”It’s not MY fault he is deaf!” I stared in disbelief…..”Use your LIPS! He is reading them! EVEN I can’t understand you….and I can hear!”( The man would have made a fortune as a ventriloquist!)

How to Include the Deaf in the Body of Christ and Dance Ministries?
Just a little common sense is all it takes and an honouring of millions of people who live and work amongst us with very little help.

  • Face them when you talk and don’t look away.
  • Eye contact is great….you emotions are read from your eyes.
  • Don’t stand in front of a bright light…your face is in shadows.
  • Use your hands.
  • Mime
  • Don’t shout, it does not help…you just look angry.

They are deaf not stupid.

They feel the vibration of the rhythm in their bodies. ie of the musical beat, thus keeping time musically,perfectly, and better than some hearing people.
Be patient, overcome your embarrassment, and be a bridge of love from Jesus.

Linda Wells ~ ICDF Network Coordinator : Deaf Signing


Picture credit: Sign Language Help. (2011). Babygooroo. Retrieved from http://babygooroo.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/sign-language_help_800x600-590×410.jpg

British and American Sign Language explained

I mix and match British Sign Language and American Sign Language. Whichever flows best in sign or dance.
I have one deaf friend here in the U.S. whereas I had dozens in the UK. It has been a hard loss for me.

Many hearing people say they “get dance worship” best when I add signs.

I often see a bridge forged between the deaf and hearing communities via  sign dance. I once had a deaf man weep as he told me he “heard music” for the first time when I used sign and dance together.

He was 45 years old.

It de-isolates the deaf, and helps hearers to connect head and heart as they learn to “Hear with their eyes.” it’s powerful!

If you put every nationality of deaf person in a room for three days, they will be communicating perfectly well in each others language. (Not so with hearers) There are many similarities, but UK and US are VERY different, and  it’s so discouraging. I use British Sign Language often and Americans get it well.

~ Linda Wells ICDF Network Coordinator “Deaf Signing”