How You and Your Church Can Be Deaf-Friendly 

                                                                                                                                                                   [MAIN STORY]

  • Take an interest in the lives of Deaf people. Find out who they really are, and what struggles and triumphs they are experiencing. Be their friend. The best way to learn about Deaf people is to be with them!

  • Don't be shy; communicate. Tryng to communicate with a Deaf individual can be terrifying. Keep in mind that this is how Deaf people feel on a day-to-day basis. Relax and just take it slow. If you don't know ASL, trying writing. Also, occasional gestures are appropriate.

  • Socialize. Invite them to your home for a meal. Make sure they're invited to church socials and are participating, rather than sitting on the sidelines like a wall flower finding comfort in the refreshments.

  • Include Deaf individuals. If a Deaf person asks what was just said, don't fall for the temptation to say, "It's not important," or "I'll tell you later."

  • Be a student. Ask Deaf people about their culture. You''ll be amazed at what you'll learn.

  • Make sure your church has materials to meet a Deaf person's needs. Materials are available to help build faith and to help them become strong believers, such as the Easy Reading Edition of the Sabbath school lesson and sermons or studies in ASL on DVD. There are also outreach materials.

  • Network your Deaf friends with other Deaf church members. It is critical for all of us to have spiritual friends whom we can relate to. Deaf people are no different. There are camp meetings and retreats nationwide that will enhance their spiritual growth, and where they can develop friendships. Also, check to see if another Adventist church nearby might have a Deaf member.

  • Get them involved. Don't let your Deaf members be mere spectators. Find out what their spiritual gifts are, and put them to work!

  • The interpreter is not a guardian. Never assume that the interpreter is taking care of all the needs of Deaf members or visitors. That is not the role of the interpreter. That is the role of the entire church.

  • Assume nothing. Each Deaf person is different from the next. They may have interests or requests that another Deaf person may not appreciate. There isn't a one-size-fits-all description of a Deaf person's likes and dislikes. You will need to communicate with your Deaf members.

  • Never forget that you, as a hearing person, are a stranger in the Deaf culture. It is an all-too-common complaint that hearing workers engaged in Deaf ministry don't have a real heart for the Deaf, think and act from a hearing standpoint, and act superior. Do not make decisions for Deaf members or try to protect or control them. Remember, authenticity and a willingness to treat peoples as equals are key traits of friendship.



 


 
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