Do You Hear What I Hear?”
With one in six people in Scotland either deaf, or having severe hearing impairment, the congregation realised the great need to reach out with God’s Word to this neglected community.
Following a Seminar in 2015 a Trial Sunday was organised for early 2016 to assess whether there was scope to use the technology within the church to go online using British Sign Language (BSL) and also Electronic Notetaking to enable those who are deaf or hard of hearing to share in weekly worship.
Research has shown that around one third of the deaf community have BSL as their first language with the remainder (many who have become deaf over time) requiring to use the typed work on screen.
Funds were raised to install a dedicated camera and upgrade the Audio/Visual System to accommodate a Pilot Year from early 2016 to 2017. Help was secured from Deaf Action Scotland to supply the specialist skills of a Signer each week plus an Electronic Notetaker. During the year it was possible to secure local professional help in both areas which has helped with cost and allow Deaf Action Scotland to fill in any gaps in provision.
We were very indebted to the many organisations who supported us financially with our set-up costs including The Church of Scotland, The Stewart Lochrie Memorial Trust, and the Sir Halley Stewart Foundation.
The Pilot Year was a great success with very good viewing figures from the online service and also from the dedicated section/service for the deaf available both live each Sunday morning or on You Tube for catch-up.
Bonus areas include;
Some wonderful feedback is received regularly from online worshippers who so appreciate the service;
Four ladies from the congregation have been learning basic BSL with help from the Lanarkshire Deaf Club;
The Scottish Churches Disability Group will be holding their Annual Conference at the church on Saturday 30 September with opportunities for all to hear how we might make God’s Word available to all irrespective of disability;
Recognising that it is difficult for those who are deaf to participate in regular services of worship at the church a special Evening Service of Singing and Signing will take place on Sunday 3 September at 6.30p.m. It is hoped that the four “Trainees” will take part. Efforts are being made to draw members of the deaf community to this evening worship time to receive feedback, suggestions and determine whether this is a format which may be repeated.
What do we need?
Prayer please. As we develop the service we ask all please to pray for God’s blessing on our outreach work and also on our efforts to reach those with visual impairment or who suffer from dementia.
Funding. To secure the professional help we need requires weekly payments to be made. We very much need funding support from the deaf community and beyond to maintain the service into the future.
Further details are available from Colin Weir or Alex Baird.