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Friday, May 23, 2008

Deaf History Through Their Own Eyes

Many people find different aspects of historical information and it is written by a number of different people, yet in this video we see the Deaf History through their own eyes. (Available on VHS and DVD at

As I teach my children Sign language it's very important to remember to teach them the culture in which the deaf live in. Their lives are not the same as hearing people and they have different etiquette to follow than hearing people do.

We feel it's very important to bridge the gap between the deaf and the hearing communities, especially among Christians.

For many years I have watched the deaf elderly couple in our church live a very lonely life. Our hearing members would come by and say hello and offer a hug, but their social time has been very limited. Even when they would attend the Senior activities, the lack of communication remained a large obstacle. From what I have seen I can tell you that the largest part of that gap was due to the hearing members lack of desire to learn how to effectively communicate.

Many churches have a Spanish ministry or a Hmong ministry so that they can reach those people, yet what is being done to reach the hearing impaired? Be sure to educate yourselves in the deaf culture, while you are learning sign language, it's a very important part of learning to communicate with the deaf community.

Here are a few tips to remember:

-When the deaf are having a conversation, or the interpretor in your church is signing to them, do NOT walk in between them. If you can avoid doing that and find another way around, that would be best. If there is no other way around them you can say, "Excuse Me" while signing 'Excuse me' and they'll either let you pass or move so you can go around. Be sure to say 'Thank you'.

-When the deaf are worshiping in church and are signing a song, it's okay to mimic them. They enjoy seeing hearing people learning sign language. Many children learn 'Jesus Loves Me' when they're in Sunday School and the deaf in our church love to see them signing when singing this song.

-You can sign with your right hand or your left hand. Whichever hand is your dominant hand, that is the one you lead your signing with.

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6 kind words:

Charlene May 23, 2008 at 12:28 PM  

Thanks for sharing more about the deaf culture! I get excited when more people learn about this! I also want to add that it is better for someone to walk through quickly than to stop and wait for the conversation to end. Also that deaf people are very good lipreaders and we want people to talk normal to us and not make big mouth movements :)

Belinda Letchford May 28, 2008 at 3:23 AM  

Great reminder

We do a little of Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and have had a little interaction with a lady who is deaf.

I have a question for you though - last night we were watching a dvd and with the subtitles on. When there was music playing, the subtitles mentioned the volume, beat and/or genre of music. I found myself wondering about this. If a person is hearing impaired or deaf would they know what that meant - is that not rude?

Love to hear your thoughts on this

Sisterlisa May 28, 2008 at 5:35 AM  

Good question Belinda. It must have been important to the scene. What film were you watching? I'll ask Charlene to come and answer your question.

Californialily May 28, 2008 at 10:21 AM  

Closed captioning and subtitles do tell us when someone is whispering, when there is creaking in the stairs, or any type of noise. Phone relay operators type down the same for us. Interpreters tell us things they notice and what they hear. Deaf people love when that happens. Half of the deaf people there can hear noises but have a difficult time disinguishing what that noise is. Even SisterLisa had to come to my house and tell me where a noise was coming from :)

Many of us do appreciate music as well! I am 85% deaf but hearing aids help me hear a lot better. If I understand the music then it is very easy for me to follow along. If I don't know the words, then it is gibberish.

Closed captions will tell us the lyrics of the songs but most subtitles don't do that. Deaf people have complained about that because they want to know the lyrics of music. There is a wide variety of hearing levels and abilities among deaf people and different types of things are required for them.

Hope this helped somewhat! :)

Sisterlisa May 28, 2008 at 1:23 PM  

Thank you for coming to answer Belinda's question, Charlene. How funny that we found out it was the boy's toy truck making that noise. It happened at my house last night too. Moni couldn't sleep because of a toy that was smashed down into one of the toy boxes. She had to search for a while until she found out what it was. The button had gotten stuck open the toy so we put it outside for the night. Thankfully the batteries ran out. LOL

Belinda Letchford May 28, 2008 at 1:57 PM  

thanks fore answer re subtitles/music. We take so much for granted that we presume the opposite must be true for those without...I'll have something to discuss with my kids now when we see this happen in a movie they watch. I was watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding - so the music was underlying cultural issues.


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