How Do We Reach the Deaf Community?

It’s time to have an important discussion.  Over the past 2 years I’ve heard an increasing number of pastors here and there mention their desire to connect online with the deaf community.

1) Is anyone doing this already?

2) If not, how do we do this? 

3) Apart from adding subtitles to our messages, are there existing online communities for the deaf or Christian leaders in the deaf community who could lead this effort?

There’s a huge opportunity here to reach out to a population with whom many local churches don’t have or provide the resources to communicate.  I don’t have many answers but want this to be a place to get the ball rolling.  Chime in below with your information and suggestions!

Thank you,



4 Responses to “How Do We Reach the Deaf Community?”

  1. Miheret August 19, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Good topic Dana, last week, A deaf man came to my office after reading poster of internet ministry. He was very excited. We communicated on paper writing….he knows to write and read in English and well enough to use internet. He is registering to be one of our online Missionary in Global Media Outreach. Exciting! GMO works fine, though the training Videos are not designed for such case. IF they get some help from us explaining things slowly via writing. I believe internet will be a major filed ministry for a person like Yigezu with hearing problems.

  2. David Hart August 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Apologies if this is a bit long!

    There are 3 main groups of Deaf people.

    1) Those who lose hearing later in life but who can manage with hearing aids without difficulty. Subtitles can help them, although they may resist this because of personal pride.

    2) Those who are born hearing but lose it through illness or other reason and for whom hearing aids provide some help but who require lip reading or subtitles to follow what is being said

    3) Those who are born deaf and for whom sign language in its various forms are used and who require an interpreter to provide communication with others. Their ability to follow subtitles may be limited.

    Speech to text transcription to provide subtitles is something that many TV companies use. I was involved in a special project in the UK that provided live transcription of telephone calls and meetings for deafened people. This involved an operator listening to what was being said and repeating it into a speech recognition system. The following BBC News article explains a bit more This can provide an accurate transcription within a few seconds of the speech. This system is available in the US for telephone calls under the name WebCaptel.

    Once you get the text then you need the technology to put this into subtitles with the video (something I do not have experience in) or could provide this as a separate text stream.

    It is interesting that this issue was raised this week as we also had a deaf person come to our church enquiring about services for deaf people.

    And on the BBC news today was information about new glasses for deaf people that allow them to view subtitles in the cinema while everyone else just sees a plain screen.

    One point they make is that this could lead to live translation as well as subtitling allowing people who speak different languages to read what is being said. So by helping deaf people we could benefit a whole range of other people.

    • Dana Byers August 26, 2011 at 8:06 am #

      David, this is fantastic information! I am especially encouraged by the new technology allowing glasses to provide subtitles. Live translation is a definite solution. Thanks for your input!

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