If you don’t know sign language, meeting someone at church who is d/Deaf* may seem scary. How could you communicate?
Neil’s top tips if a d/Deaf person comes to your church for the first time:
- Smile and show they are welcome! Don’t panic – just try to communicate.
- Ask if they can lip read – point to your mouth to show what you mean.
- If you can’t sign, you may be able to use written messages and gestures.
- Don’t assume all d/Deaf people have the same communication needs –people may lip read or sign in BSL, or use other forms of signing.
- Always look at the d/Deaf person – speak to them directly, not to a person accompanying them.
- If a d/Deaf person visits, never ever pray for them to hear without asking! They know their prayer needs, and being d/Deaf may be their identity.
* The term d/Deaf is used to cover both the wider deaf population (small d), including those who are hard of hearing, and the Deaf community (capital D) which uses BSL (British Sign Language) as the first or preferred language and has its own cultural identity.