Tonight I heard our service through different ears. Someone at church came up to me and asked if it would bother me to have a deaf interpreter near my camera. It seems that someone who goes to Quest brought her hearing-impaired friend. You need to know that we don’t have a “deaf ministry”. We’re not against it; it’s just that my pastor believes you don’t start a new ministry unless it meets two criteria: 1) does it help accomplish the vision of “Transforming unconvinced people into whole-hearted followers of Jesus” and 2) it has a leader.

Anyway, knowing that there was someone, who at least had enough trouble hearing that she needed someone to sign for her, near my camera that I started wondering how accessible we’d be if there wasn’t someone there to interpret.

I realized that some of our service is already VERY accessible. Praise and worship is good. We show the lyrics large, and in short phrases. The font is clear and legible. It would be difficult for someone not to be able to read it. Additionally, our music is loud enough and bass pronounced enough that the deaf could feel it. Since we do IMAG, there is plenty to look at and enter into.

Performed songs (other churches call them special music or “anthems”) include most (but not all) of the lyrics keyed over the IMAG. As such, a deaf person could still enter in, albeit not as well.

Dramas have no visual cue of the words, just circumstances and IMAG, so lip-readers would be okay. Still we could use some improvement.

The message uses occasional words, pictures, and clips to illustrate the point, but is mostly spoken word, although the pastor often uses props, this could also use some improvement.

Finally, our announcement time is bolstered by the announcement slides. This means that many of the announcements can be read as well as heard. This is also helpful, although all announcements don’t include slides.

All in all, I’m pleased with the results for not even trying to suit this audience. There is room for improvement, but it goes to show that helping hearing people fully engage also helps others.

Paul

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