Deaf people use a visual language to communicate. Most pastors have not been trained how to use a sign language interpreter. When a particular message is directed toward Deaf people, a few changes can help greatly. Sign language interpreters can share these ideas with pastors, missionaries, and other speakers so they can be more effective with Deaf people.
1. Preach only one topic per sermon. Talking about too many things at one time can be confusing. Have one main preaching point or purpose for the message.
2. Make sure your ideas follow a logical and planned pattern. This is easier said than done. Also, avoid jumping from idea to idea too quickly. Deaf people value clear messages.
3. Take plenty of time to develop each idea fully. Make sure each idea is understood before moving to the next idea. It is better to communicate a few truths more clearly.
4. Make sure your interpreter understands you. Before your sermon, take time to share the highlights of your message with your interpreter. Be sure to include hard or unfamiliar words, difficult concepts, illustrations you plan to use, your main preaching point, your outline, your desire for the audience’s response, etc.
5. Use the structure: Topic – Comment. Sometimes in English the topic or subject appears last in the sentence or paragraph. Make sure your topic of conversation is clear at the beginning. Emphasize when you change topics or subjects. Tell the location, time, and person first, then make your comments. (Condensed from SWM 101 Series – What Interpreters and Deaf People Should Know. Order from SWM)