The Deaf Community is made up of a wide range of people, of all ages and with different experiences of hearing and sensory loss. Those who identify as being members of the Deaf community claim a unique culture, drawn from a shared experience of Deafness and a shared language - British Sign Language (BSL). There are innumerable barriers for Deaf people, mainly due to communication and lack of awareness on the part of the majority hearing society.
Changes in society have had an impact on Deaf people. Improvements in technology and the Equalities Act of 2010 for example, have improved access and given different ways to communicate. However, Deaf and Deafblind people who wish to be part of the Church still have many barriers because so much of church life and worship centers on the spoken word. From the mainstream Church perspective, Deaf people who use BSL have been an invisible and forgotten minority.
One way to provide access is to have interpreters signing the service - as shown in this photo from Downham Market Methodist Church, where the service is interpreted once a month.
Another option is to have events specifically organised by and for Deaf people, using BSL as the language of choice.
The District has set up a ministry to respond to the needs of the Deaf Community under the name 'Sign the Cross'. It has been set up as a new form of Church, based in the Central Norfolk circuit, with Rev Anne Richardson as the Minister. ‘Sign the Cross’ seeks to work ecumenically where possible. There are regular church services in Norwich and elsewhere there are Deaf fellowship groups, and links with Deaf Christians in neighbouring Dioceses.For more information, to find out about interpreted services and Deaf-friendly events, visit the website or email Rev Anne directly.