Guidelines for Churches when Deaf people Attending

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Category: Biographies Published: Thursday, 09 March 2006 10:18
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Guidelines for Cathedrals and Churches when deaf people are present
Based on a leaflet issued by The National Deaf Church Conference of the Church of England


There should be an experienced, suitably qualified Sign Language Interpreter. A longer service may require two.

The Interpreters will need ALL the following information prior to the service (at least one week in advance).
a) Hymn words in large print
b) Words to any choir anthems or solos in large print
c) Words to any Drama, Poetry or other similar items
d) The Service Liturgy in large print
e) The words of any prayers of intercession
f) The Bible Readings)
g) The sermon

The Interpreter should be slightly raised on staging so he/she is visible. The pulpit is seldom a good place since it is too high.

If there is any time during the service where there is movement e.g. a procession to the back for the Gospel reading, advice should be sought from the Interpreter and Deaf People present regarding how this is to be managed.

Good lighting is essential. Candlelight alone is NEVER good enough.

Intercessions: If members of the Deaf Church are mentioned in the intercessions, may we respectfully suggest that this should be under the heading of "the ministry of the Church' not under "the sick". There should not be prayers for healing from deafness unless the deaf community specifically request.

When Deaf People are present, it may be considered insensitive to use instrumental music without any words or visual media. (Generally organ voluntaries before and after the service and music during communion is fine, but using instrumental music during the prayers as a form of aid to meditation, in a sermon as an illustration, or an instrumental break in a hymn is not helpful to Deaf People).

When Deaf Choirs are invited to join the service, choir leaders will need the words and music prior to the service (at least three weeks in advance).

Time must be allowed in the service for Deaf Choirs to:
a) Take their place before the music commences
b) Return to their seats before the service continues.

Language: When referring to members of the Deaf Community , words such as "Deaf People" "Deaf Community, "Deaf Church" are wholly acceptable. "Deaf and Dumb" is considered unacceptable. "Deaf People" is preferable to "The Deaf'. The Language of Deaf People is "Sign Language" not "Deaf language".
NDCC March 2001 Copies of this paper are available from: The National Deaf Church Conference 27 Redriff Close, Maidenhead, Berks, SL6 4DJ