In Part 1, of this three-part series, guest author Lucy Crabtree shared her experience with hearing loss and struggle to find a place in the local church. In Part 2, she offered practical advice for loving your neighbors in the hearing loss community. This third and final installment features practical advice for including the hearing loss community in the local church.
— Part 3 —
Including people with hearing loss at church requires cultivating a culture of inclusion, which goes beyond providing accommodations to examining the church’s internal culture and attitude about hearing loss.
The first step toward inclusion at church is to know your people. If you do have someone in your congregation with hearing loss, start by meeting with them and asking questions. What do they need? How do they prefer to communicate? What could the church do to make Sunday services easier for them to understand? What are other church events like for them? Listen, and work with them to figure out how to better include them at church.
If you do not know of anyone in your congregation with hearing loss, consider looking for a Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), or state association for the Deaf affiliate nearby, or even with your state school for the Deaf. They can offer context for your area’s Deaf/hard of hearing population and culture. If your area is home to a population of culturally Deaf people, then starting or supporting a Deaf ministry or church may be the best option. Check Deaf Missions and Deaf Bible Society to see how you can get started.
Even if a Deaf ministry is in your future, still be mindful of those in your congregation with hearing loss who do not consider themselves part of Deaf culture. The following suggestions listed here are based on my hard of hearing experience and from what I hear from my late deafened friends. Continue reading “Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community — Part 3”
In Part 1, of this three-part series, guest author Lucy Crabtree shared her experience with hearing loss and struggle to find a place in the local church. In this second post, she offers practical advice for loving your neighbors in the hearing loss community.
— Part 2 —
As I concluded in Part 1, we Christians have an opportunity to honor the imago dei and respect the dignity of all people by communicating respectfully and appropriately with people with hearing loss. In interpersonal communication, one way to show this honor and respect is by asking a simple question: “What’s the best way for me to communicate with you?” Continue reading “Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community — Part 2”
Last October, I posted the following tweet, in which I used the term “deaf and dumb” in proximity with being cognitively impaired:
One of my followers, Lucy Crabtree, sent me a kind private message in response. She informed me of how the phrase has been used historically. She also explained why it can be offensive to those in the hearing loss community.
I felt convicted and posted an apology thread.
Since that time, I’ve thought a lot about how little I understand the hearing loss community and how to welcome them into my life and church community.
In December, I published a two-part guest series, “Welcoming the Eating Disorder Community.” It was well-received, and I learned a lot. So, I decided to continue the “Welcoming…” series. Lucy graciously accepted my invitation to write a series on “Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community,” which will appear in three parts this week.
— Part 1 —
I smile and nod in empathy as my new friend tells me about her church. “The pastor sends me and a few other people his sermon before church,” she says. “Those of us with hearing difficulties.” I wince as another friend sighs deeply and says she can’t follow the conversation during the ladies’ Bible study. And I listen as my Deaf and hard of hearing friends tell me over and over, “My parents made me go to church but I had no idea what was going on, so I don’t go anymore.”
A few years ago, I would have told a similar story: I went to church, but I had a hard time following conversations and keeping up with the sermon, so I stopped going.
I spent two years out of church. How could God be okay with me being excluded at church? Why did I have to be hard of hearing and why did communicating with others have to be so much extra work? Why didn’t He DO something? Continue reading “Welcoming the Hearing Loss Community”