How To Speak to Deaf People Using an Interpreter (Cont’d)

8. It is fine to use hand and body gestures. You may want to instruct your interpreter to have the Deaf audience watch you as you describe something with gestures. Also, when you make a specific gesture – how tall, how deep, how large – wait until the interpreter catches up and the Deaf people can see your gesture before you proceed.

9. Use the same words throughout the sermon or lesson. For example, if the message is about the resurrection, use the word “resurrection” often during the message. The Deaf people will understand your message was about the resurrection. Another example: The words, “saved,” “born-again,” and “receive Jesus Christ as Savior” all tend to mean the same thing. Switching between those words in one sermon can be confusing. One Deaf person said, “I have been saved, and have received Jesus Christ, but today I want to be born again.” The message was confusing to Deaf people.

10. Explain unfamiliar topics or words. Describe, tell stories, use positive examples, and use negative examples until the topic or word is very clear. Continue only when the audience understands you (even if you cannot finish the sermon).

11. Use specific and clear words and illustrations regarding sin. Say the word you mean. Do not try to be polite. Deaf people tend to value clear communication more than politeness. Examples: say gossip instead of tattle-tale, say lie instead of fib, say rebellion instead of stubbornness, say sexual sin instead of uncleanness.

12. Be very clear in the invitation. Make sure the deaf understand which decision you are asking them to make. Do not switch back and forth between decisions. For example, complete the invitation for salvation before moving on to dedication for service, or vice versa.       (To Be Continued)

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