How To Speak To Deaf People With an Interpreter

1. Choose your target audience – Children, Adults, Parents, Deaf, Hearing, High language level, Low language level, etc. – In a mixed audience, plan to say something to reach each group. For example, you could preach 70% for Deaf adults and 30% for teens.

2. Read Bible verses slowly, naturally, and clearly. Allow the natural meaning of the verses to become clear as you read. Rapid Bible reading is rarely interpreted accurately.

3. Think visually. Illustrate with something the audience can see or has experienced. Allow time for them to watch your illustration, then look back at the interpreter for your explanation.

4. Watch for understanding in the eyes of the Deaf audience. Realize there will be a delay between when you speak and the interpreter signs your thought. Speaking more slowly and understanding the delay will help you get better feedback.

5. Stop (pause) when Deaf people look away or are distracted. When they are not looking, they cannot hear you. Deaf people rely more on their eyes than do hearing people. Hearing people tend to feel awkward during pauses. Deaf people tend to appreciate waiting until the distraction is past.

6. Repeat or rephrase to make the message clear. Hearing people may consider repetition boring, but Deaf people tend to value repetition as a means to emphasize the point. Repeating can be very good.

7. Ask questions, then give answers. This is a highly effective method and is one of the ways Sign Language is normally used. Examples: “Does God love Deaf people? Yes, God loves Deaf people!” or “In how many days did God create the world? God created the world in six days.”

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