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 ‘VALUEING DIFFERENCE.’

Ministry amongst Deaf People

 

‘The song of the bird is not heard but woven through beautiful gestures of the hands.’

Spirituality and deafness

 

As a religious ministering to the  HEARING IMPAIRED ‘Deaf’  I would like to bring to light what may appear to have been forgotten  in the catholic church here in GHANA. Our catholic deaf children, youth and adults are all  out of the church because they seems not to ministered unto , no body seems to understand them they don’t feel part of us.

 

To understand the present situation regarding the Apostolate among Deaf people, I will like to give a brief history of the Deaf community and their language so as to put things in perspective and to give you an overall picture to aid your further understanding and reflection.

 

At the beginning of the time when records began to be written, the situation of Deaf people was usually negative.

Deaf people have been perceived as being uneducatable by Aristotle (“it is impossible to reason without the ability to hear”) and

St Augustine (“faith comes only through hearing”).

 

In the Mediterranean countries Roman law forbade the inheritance of family fortunes by those who could not speak.

 

PEDRO PONCE DE LEON

The first known teacher of the Deaf was Pedro Ponce de Leon a Spanish monk (early 1500s). He educated an 18 year old Deaf son of a Mayor to learn to say a few words.

 

 

Pedro Ponce de Leon’s success encouraged further education techniques for the Deaf. He was followed by Manuel Ramirez de Carrion (late 1500s), the man who is seen as the inventor of speech training for Deaf people.

 

After him came a French priest, Abbé de l’Epee {1700’s} who was very concerned that Deaf people were not receiving the sacraments. According to the belief of the Church, failure to receive the sacraments would send them to Hell. Yet he did not know how to help them.

 

One day, he noticed two Deaf girls communicating to each other in their own sign language. He observed them carefully and soon was able to communicate simple ideas with them. After a short time, he had learned their language and found that he could communicate complicated religious ideas to them.

 

In 1760, he opened at first a shelter for the poor Deaf and by 1762/3, he created a school for the education of the Deaf in Paris. Before de l’Epee opened the school, education was only available to rich deaf children. He gave educational opportunities to the poor deaf children.

 

Almost immediately, he was overwhelmed with the number of poor deaf children coming to his school.

           

He very soon came to the conclusion that teaching through sign language was proving to be effective and efficient. He developed a very high and well–structured education for deaf children. He also invented new signs to show grammatical features of the French language. His system for teaching the Deaf became known as the French Method.

 

One of de l’Epee’s students, the Abbé Sicard, continued his work. He opened a school of his own and in 1818 he published an important study called “Theory of Signs”, which included a grammar and dictionary of sign language.

 

It is not my intention to write up a full essay on the history of Deaf education; but suffice it to say that the catholic church has and is still ministering to these people in EUROPE and other places of the globe where I think GHANA can take a clue from.  

 

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE

 

St. Paul said:

“They will not ask his help unless they believe in him, and they will not believe in him unless they have heard of him, and they will not hear of him unless they get a preacher, and they will never have a preacher unless one is sent, but as Scripture say: The footsteps of those who bring good news is a welcome sound. So faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ.” [Rom 10: 14-17].

Do we want our catholic Deaf children to be with us or continue to lose them to other churches.

 

The Catechism says as catholics  we are expected to go to Mass at least once a week. Clearly this shows that there is disparity due to unavailability of sign language interpreters in our churches. Our deaf brothers and sisters don’t feel part of us hence they walk out of the church. The question that comes to mind is “Who is responsible for this situation and to whom can this question be addressed.”?

 

Allow me the freedom and imagination to recreate one of Jesus’ parables – the parable of the vineyard in Mt. 20: 1-7:

 

Now the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers and said that he would reward them generously, and sent them into his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place, they were hard of hearing. The landowner signed to them  to , “You go to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair reward”. So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and found some more people who were doing nothing. They were partially deaf, and the landowner made a deal with them and gave them work. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more people standing around, and he signed to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” They explained “Because we are profoundly deaf, no one

Want us.” He said to them, “You go into my vineyard too and I will give you a fair reward”…. ( my adaptation).

 

Because of ignorance, oppression and discrimination, Deaf people have been treated as objects of charity rather than citizens who play a full part in the Church and society, they have often been forgotten and left out. There is a common view that specialist ministry among Deaf people is a luxury, an option that can be cut when resources are short. My re-creation of Jesus’ parable shows an interesting decreasing linear corresponding to the hard of hearings who were left idle doing nothing but who were the first to be given the task of working in the vineyard and the profoundly deaf people who were the last to be discovered. The needs and rights of the hard of hearing people are often quite easy to understand and catered for whereas the needs and rights of profoundly deaf people are often harder to acknowledge and be properly addressed.

The kingdom of heaven is here on earth and it is for all, including Deaf people.

 

I believe that the Deaf community is a cultural and linguistic minority group. Allowing them to be fully integrated into the church will enable them to live as full members of Christ’s kingdom in the Church and society.

 

 

It is not the purpose of this paper to paint a gloomy picture. I wish to state the facts which may have an important bearing on how we try to develop Pastoral plan that would enable us to minister effectively with Deaf people. At this point I would like to emphasize the various pastoral strategies that could be used to overcome obstacles and barriers, and to encourage initiative that would and empower the Deaf people in our church.

 

Deaf people just as other disabled persons have the same right as everybody else to participate actively in the life and work of the Church.

 

                                                                                          

BAPTISMAL CALLING

Deaf people are also called to salvation. It is God’s intention that each person who is born learns to discover his/her identity, his/her responsibility and his/her place in the Church and society. God calls every single person to know his/her Creator, and to share God’s love with all.

…….. the baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church…. Reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church’ and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God (sic). Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1270

 

 

 

  The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit’. [Catechism of the Catholic Church, m. 1257]

 

Sometime ago a Deaf man was convicted of a serious offence for driving and for having caused serious injury to several people in the car that he crashed into. AT court, the probation officer, the Social Worker with Deaf people, the Sign Language Interpreter, and the solicitor who represented him, did a brilliant job; he only received a certain period of suspended sentence. At a later meeting with all these people to discuss what ‘suspended sentence’ meant, his language was revealing, he used the term ‘I’m freed.’ He did not show any remorse or regret. He showed no inkling of accepting his responsibility for what he had done. Just what role has society played in making sure that people like him{deaf} are informed of their responsibilities in the world? What has the Church done to teach people, especially deaf people, about moral conscience? This Deaf man had never received good and appropriate training and education on who he was and his place in society. The unfortunate result was that he was more or less a parasite living on charity without realizing for what he could do for his fellow friends and country.

 

Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment… For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God… His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God…whose voice echoes in his depths. [Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1776]

 

 The  Church is often seen as a place to which pious people,  go to pray and worship. They believe that the Church is merely an outdated institution which has nothing to do with real life in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth, the Church has important functions to perform and an important contribution to offer to society. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that Deaf people consider the Church to be boring, uninteresting, irrelevant, because it has been inaccessible to them for so long.

 

We are all individuals and unique creations, but at the same time we all belong to different groups or  communities, such as Photography club, football team, or a Bible Study group. We also belong to the universal Roman Catholic community, and locally we belong to our parish or Deaf Centre.

 

Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: ‘Therefore... we are members of one

another.’ Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one people of God of the New Covenant, which transcend all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races and sexes: ‘For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.’ [CCC 1267]

 

 

Deafness is not a bar to the life of the Church, nor should it stop us from drinking the living water at the well:

Just as Baptism is the source of responsibilities and duties, the baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God an to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church. [CCC 1269]

 

As baptised persons, we have the task of proclaiming the Gospel, sharing in the kingly, prophetic and priestly work of Christ. The Church needs all the different gifts that God has given to all. In the 21stcentury, we are faced with a plethora of faiths and cultures, and we are constantly made aware of the dichotomy between Jesus’ stories and examples in the gospels, and our own lives. Is it really possible to undertake the mission among Deaf people? Before we attempt to undertake this task, I cannot over-emphasize the importance of support and networking.

 

Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. [Mk 6:7-13]

 

In this gospel story we see that Jesus was already preparing his disciples for missionary work. The longer passage in the gospel of Luke is a little different (Luke 10:1-20) but both were clear in the fact that Jesus sent his disciples two by two or in pairs, not individually. It seemed that Jesus was concerned they should get support from each other. They came back rejoicing to tell their tales, their successes and difficulties;

Jesus listened to them and gave them more instructions. However, in Mark’s gospel, the story of the sending out was followed fairly soon by Jesus’ instruction: ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ (Mk 6:30). Jesus was slowly and gradually forming them to be the vineyard workers, preachers, healers, and messengers of the Good News of the gospel. They were ordinary men.

 

Today, no less true than in Jesus’ time, our baptism calls us to serve and to proclaim the Good News of the gospel.

By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by

engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. [CCC 898]

Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is all the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ.

Their activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it. [CCC 900]

The proclamation of the Good News of the gospel, is to enable all to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, and with each other. It begins with our own words or signs, our thoughts and our actions.

The contents of the Good News is important. Basically, the Good News comes from God, it is about God and his love for us, it is a message of how God involves himself with us in our world. It is a story of the life and work of Jesus Christ who is the manifestation of God’s love for all. It is not restricted to certain people or certain groups. God created all and he loves us all without exception.

When we see something beautiful, or when we see someone or certain people who do wonderful things, naturally we want to respond, we offer praise, we congratulate people, and we delight in the good. When we truly realise that God loves us, we want to respond by offering him praise and thanksgiving, and share it with others. There is no one right way to do this; our diverse personalities and the different situations influence the way we respond. Ministry with Deaf people is a very specialised task requiring specialised

skills and training, understanding and experience. Teaching, preaching, evangelizing, healing depends on culture, time and place.

 

There has been very research and study on the subject of Deaf people within Church. The wider Catholic Church community is still quite ignorant of Deaf people and how to include them in all its spheres of evangelizing, catechesizing and praying. This paper does not set out to rectify this but, I hope to bring to the fore the Deaf dimension - our understanding and experience of Deaf culture, and see how we can improve the way we work together, and enhance the understanding of our relationships. It is impossible to cover everything, one would need to write a book but I hope this paper will trigger off discussions, give hope to the tiring and frustrated workers, offer direction and insights, and generally enable all to see ministry with Deaf people in a new light and give us a sense of renewal.

 

Developing Deaf people’s spirituality

 

In spite of  courses, seminars, informal groups we may offer  to empower them in whatever way possible, I  believe deaf people first and foremost humans created by GOD. They have a wealth of experience; it is possible to develop spirituality out of ordinary human experience. Whatever spiritual belief or religious practice, their outlook would obviously be influenced by visual orientation, the input they received during their lives as Deaf children and person. The starting point is Deaf people’s own experience rather than working from theories and books.

 

Deaf people like all others that could  have a conscience needs to be developed and nurtured. Too often, in their early life, the majority of profoundly Deaf people are denied the opportunity to become ‘whole persons. Holiness is to do with being a whole person and living in the conscious awareness of God, others and self.

 

The disciples followed Jesus, they observed him, they asked him questions, they learnt from him, they realised he loved them in a real way and they loved him; they imitated him

As religious working  with deaf people I have come to realization that it is our responsibility not just to sign the words, prayers but to live out our spiritual lives and to give witness.

During one of my lessons with the deaf  children about spirituality during Sunday service, one asked a very brilliant question,

Does Deaf spirituality exist?’ this queston made me to think very deep since am not deaf myself. After a thorough research I found out that deaf spirituality exist.

 

The sense of hearing, when it comes to Deaf spirituality, is not applicable or

always relevant. The remaining four senses of sight, smell, taste and touch are accentuated. Deaf Spirituality tends to be more ‘visual’ and that whilst the deaf cannot see the spirit as such, they{Deaf} often experience the effects through sight, smell, taste and touch. The spirituality of Deaf people need not be limited to only that which is visual, but extends to embrace the whole range of human life experience.

 

I believe that spirituality is the same to Deaf or hearing people but Deaf culture plays a large part in influencing how Deaf people see God and how they relate to him. Deaf people relationship with the Lord is relational, it is religious because they talk about the relationship with God, and it is concrete because they talk about the experience of that relationship, not the idea of it. And if the remaining four senses are accentuated, their experience and spirituality would differ from the OUR spirituality ‘hearing people’ who mainly use the sense of hearing at liturgical celebrations.

 

Deafness does shape and colour Deaf people’s spirituality. Deaf spirituality is obviously image dependent, and, therefore, more visual. Shapes and sizes, textures, colours, smells, spatiality will feature large in our spiritual upbringing. These are the external characteristics which will be similar for hearing people except that in our case it will be more enhanced, more central and important. It is in the internal characteristics, that I believe we differ: how we perceive God and who he is for us, how we relate to

him, and how we express our desires, intentions and prayers to him.

 

 

. We must acknowledge that Deaf people’s spirituality have treasures which they must be brought to realise that they possess and which they must learn to be encouraged to share with others.

Deaf people lives have been be influenced, amongst all the positive

effects, also by the kinds of oppression and discrimination that they experienced in the past, but they do not get here without their life experiences. Pastoral theologian Michael Cowan has something quite blunt to say: ‘Those, including ministers and ministerial leaders, who do not understand the cultural worlds in which they act, act blindly and, even worse, disrespectfully.” (J Whitehead & E Whitehead, 1995).

 

 

Christ was born into a culture, he became a living part of it. Working and worshipping with Deaf people means we need to integrate ourselves with them and walk the Emmaus walk with them.

 

The following amusing story (from W Au & N Cannon, pg 15) is about a student and teacher which shows the danger of uninformed or incorrect ideas of the self:

 

A student of the Torah came to his teacher and announced that, in his opinion, he was qualified for ordination as a rabbi. The stage asked, “What are your qualifications?” The student replied, “I have disciplined my body so that I can sleep on the ground, eat the grass of the field, and allow myself to be whipped three times a day.” The teacher said, “See that ass over there, and be mindful that it sleeps on the ground, eats the grass of the field, and is whipped no less than three times daily. Up to the present you may qualify to be an ass, but certainly not a rabbi.”

 

A dull and insensitive conscience is a moral failure, it is not the same as an undeveloped conscience or morals. Undeveloped conscience may result from lack of access, lack of information, inadequate schooling and not learning to think about the consequences of our actions. The formation of conscience is assisted by good example and listening to wise teaching from parents, teachers and friends, learning to understand the message of the gospels and the teachings of the Church.

 

 

It is also assisted by accepting our own responsibility and practicing discipline; finally, it is assisted through prayer in which we learn to communicate with God and reflect on how we have lived our lives, and on our attitudes which rule our actions and guide our behaviour according to his commandments of love.

 

 

MINISTRY WITH THE DEAF PEOPLE

There are various ways of explaining what constitutes ‘Ministry with Deaf people’, but it is an axiom that whatever definitions or forms ‘Ministry with Deaf people’ takes, it has then to take on board the language and culture of the Deaf  community  [ people ].

 

Ministries do not belong to hearing people only but to everybody, Deaf people included. With my little experience, it is quite obvious that deaf ministry is one of the most difficult ministries to undertake within the Church today.

 

Any behavioral science that examines people who work together will want to see how priests, , Deaf or hearing, volunteer or paid, relate with each other in the various pastoral settings.

While I do not claim to have experience and expertise in behavioral science, I will endeavor to look at the difficulties that the United Kingdom experienced in the 1990s, and how the obstacles were overcame.

 

 

 Padden & Humphries wrote that the ‘science’ of others, which celebrates speech, is so pervasive that it effectively overpowers a different knowledge, namely Deaf people’s knowledge about signed language. What they were really saying was that it took Deaf people so many decades before they were convinced that their natural sign language was on an equal par to spoken English, if not better.

 I believe Deaf people adopt a similar attitude here, that the ‘science’ of other ministers, priests, and Religious people simply overpowers their idea of service. Deaf people put them on a pedestal so far above them, they were seen as ‘experts’ who had undergone strict and rigorous training and studies, and who were specially commissioned by Bishops or Provincials and other such authority figures to serve the Lord;

 

Appropriate use of language and knowledge gives power and independence to person who uses them; hence Deaf people have often remained powerless, and shackled in their ignorance, they do not believe they could contend with hearing people on an equal par, thus lessening their contribution to the life of the Church;

 

Lack of understanding of service, more specifically not being aware of the distinction between ‘helping’ and empowering’. Many have fallen into the trap of thinking that they are doing a service to Deaf people when in fact, they are doing things for them rather than enabling or empowering them to learn and understand what they have to do themselves so it becomes a disservice to the Deaf community.

 

They need to develop the skill of knowing when to hand over the control and not allow Deaf people to become dependent on them. Too often justice has been seen to have been done according to the gospel or as required by the creed, because Deaf people have not been free to exercise their talents, express their minds, contribute the fruits of their experience as the sons and daughters of God and the Church and have not taken their rightful role within the Deaf community and Church. There has been little development of the whole concept of role formation for Deaf people;

 

 I strongly believe that asking the deaf or giving them the chance to operate will be the best thing rather than going out ourselves to do the fishing for them, we teach them how to catch fish. There is a great need for us to identify  Deaf people in our church and integrate them into our celebrations. Our  eucharistic celebration is full of sings and movements that will benefit and make the Deaf feel part of us should we give them the chance.

 

Deaf people will always be happy to share with hearing people as long as they are not expected to fit into the way and experience of hearing people. Neither do they expect all hearing people to fit into the way and experience of Deaf people themselves.

 

They have to meet half way, negotiation and make compromise, and build bridges. If hearing people have sign language skills and have the right attitude, integration will occur

almost naturally.

 

 

DEAF PEOPLE AS MINISTERS

 

Deaf people as ministers {CATHECHISTS] can be really effective when they minister to other people like themselves. Deaf people share the same language and culture; they understand the experience of isolation and the struggle to integrate within the hearing world’s Church. They are often reminded of their daily lived injustices, and feelings of indifference and oppression, even today.

 

The word ‘pastoral’ is associated with the shepherds who look after their sheep in pastures. Hence, ‘shepherding’ is a key word ‘service’. In keeping with the principles of the fundamental rights of each and every person, I believe that Deaf people also share in the ministry of Christ and are therefore obliged to exercise this ministry. Deaf pastoral workers are essential to the Church, they are not simply to be tolerated or seen as objects of charity, but, like every other human person, as to be seen as gift.

 

To really facilitate the full involvement of Deaf people in the life of the Church and other fields of pastoral and community services they must be identified and  recognized.

 

However, for a good ministry to flourish, good communication is vital. For positive collaboration between Deaf and hearing people to occur, we all need to have the skills of  communicating and listening to each other, understand the business at hand, and have the right attitude, be willing to enter into true dialogue.

 

HOW CAN PRIEST MINISTER UNTO THE DEAF

 

 

Conclusion

 

Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’ [Mt 28: 16-20]

 

Knowing that he could not be with his friends in an earthly life indefinitely, before Jesus ascended to heaven, he was prepared to entrust everything to his apostles. Three years earlier, who would have thought they would be entrusted with such noble commands? The key word is formation. Jesus formed them into people who had vision, courage and the desire to share the good news. Formation happened because Jesus spent time with them. Formation happened because he believed they could become the heralds of the good news. Formation happened because these were people, like all others, open to positive influences and growth.

 

A growth in social and ecclesial consciousness, together with undeniable progress in specialized pedagogy, makes it possible for the family and other formative centres to provide adequate catechesis for these people who, as baptized, have this right and, if not baptized, because they are called to salvation. [General Directory for Catechesis, 189]

 

History is an interaction between people and society, always evolving and changing. Collaborative ministry is the way forward, we need not only to learn that Deaf people themselves are the best resources, but have the courage to invest time, energy and money in them. They will then ‘leave their nest and be ministers to others.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following are guidelines for priests;

 Working in a situation where Deaf people are present and an Interpreter is signing to enable Deaf people take part in the celebration of the Liturgy.

 

I believe these guidelines will help them to be more aware of the needs of our Deaf brothers and sisters in our congregation.

 

I also believe that these guidelines could be taken generally as they will help us religious and priests to bring more dignity and reverence into our services and celebrations.

 

We use a capital "D" for people who are part of the Deaf community, a lower case "d" is used when we are talking about deaf people who are not part of the community and do not use sign-language.

 

    * The first words I would use to help Religious and Priests working with Deaf People is to "SLOW DOWN". If you remember to slow down that will be a good starting point. Most of us speak too quickly making it difficult even for hearing people. When we speak too fast we make it impossible for Deaf people to grasp and even more impossible for the interpreter to translate into sign-language. Slowing down adds greater meaning to the words we use and brings more dignity and reverence to the celebration.

 

    * When Deaf people are present at a hearing liturgy, try to remember that you are speaking through a third party (the interpreter). A lot will depend on the pace of the speaker. Speak slowly and clearly. (There's that word again - SLOW!) I am always afraid to say a 'normal pace' because for most of us even 'normal' is too fast.

 

    * Many priests will slow down at the beginning of the mass but you need to be conscious not only at the beginning but throughout the entire celebration. It is a big criticism of the Deaf that priests take the Eucharistic Prayers too fast making it impossible for an interpreter to follow. The Eucharistic Prayer is as important as the Liturgy of the Word and the Homily. Slow Down!

 

    * When preparing your homily, try to keep to one theme, some priests move through several themes in the course of one homily making it difficult for the interpreter and even more difficult for Deaf people to comprehend.

 

    * During your preparation, it is always good to look at the language you use to get your message across. Some theological words and concepts are difficult to interpret. If you think it will present a difficulty, change it, try to say the same thing using a language that is more accessible and easier to understand.

 

    * Use language that is clear and simple. Don't use 'highbrow' language that will be difficult to translate. Sign-language is a visual language. Translating English into local Sign-Language can be a complex task.

 

    * Try not to use metaphors as they are always difficult for the Interpreter to translate and many Deaf people will not comprehend the meaning of the metaphors used. If you intend to use a metaphor then try to speak to the interpreter beforehand, he / she may be able to put your words in a language more suitable for Deaf people which will enable them to comprehend what you are saying.

 

    * It always helps if the priest has a written copy of the homily so that the interpreter will be able to familiarise him  / herself with the content

If you do not have a full copy, pointers will also assist the interpreter. Failing this, you can speak with the interpreter before the celebration begins.

 Share some of your ideas and thoughts of your homily with the interpreter. This will assist him / her with the translation and preparation.

 

    * Make sure that the microphone is not in the way of your mouth when speaking. This is a common problem in many churches. Many microphones in Churches are a hindrance to Deaf people and prevent them from taking part in the Liturgy as they cover the mouth of the person reading or preaching. Often the ambo is too high, can it be lowered? Can the person in the front row or the back see the reader clearly?

 

    * Many Deaf people are excellent lip-readers but need to see clearly the person speaking. A Deaf person will also read facial expression as well as lip-patterns. Reading sign-language for long periods of time can be very tiring for a Deaf person. Profoundly Deaf people will follow the interpreter but many will try to follow the speaker's lip-pattern also.

 Being aware of your movement in this way can also help the Deaf person.

 

    * When you are speaking, hearing people can listen. Try to remember that Deaf people have to 'read' the sign-language being used by the interpreter to understand what you are saying.

    * If you see Deaf people falling asleep during your homily it is because you have been too long - keep it short.

    * Finally, SLOW DOWN!

ongratulations!

 

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