Don’t Be Out of Your Depth with Deaf People in Church

New Deaf Awareness Video available

If you don’t know sign language, meeting someone at church who is d/Deaf* may seem scary. How could you communicate?
Answer: watch the new free Deaf Awareness training video for churches available from disability charity Through the Roof.

Revd Neil Robinson, Chaplain to the Deaf community in Salisbury, presents this training resource in British Sign Language (BSL), with subtitles and voice-over.

An essential resource for churches that offers advice, encouragement and practical suggestionsis
available on YouTube (@TTRChangesLives) here: *
new free Deaf Awareness training video *
You can also download it at:

Neil tells you what to do if someone arrives at your church who is d/Deaf, including how to book BSL interpreters, and other communication tactics.

Neil’s top tips if a d/Deaf person comes to your church for the first time:

  • Smile and show they are welcome! Don’t panic – just try to communicate.
  • Ask if they can lip read – point to your mouth to show what you mean.
  • If you can’t sign, you may be able to use written messages and gestures.
  • Don’t assume all d/Deaf people have the same communication needs –people may lip read or sign in BSL, or use other forms of signing.
  • Always look at the d/Deaf person – speak to them directly, not to a person accompanying them.
  • If a d/Deaf person visits, never ever pray for them to hear without asking! They know their prayer needs, and being d/Deaf may be their identity.

The training video is 18 minutes long and has four parts:

  1. An introduction
  2. How to communicate with a d/Deaf person
  3. A variety of communication tactics
  4. Link to spiritual issues and spiritual well-being.

Neil says, ‘d/Deaf people are valuable to God; God loves them just as they are’.

For a further video explaining why Deaf awareness is so important, watch Revd Neil’s personal story at Rev Neil’s Story – YouTube

Through the Roof supports churches and church leaders with free training and resources to promote Christian disability inclusion – see and @TTRChangesLives. [* The term d/Deaf is used to cover both the wider deaf population (small d), including those who are hard of hearing, and the Deaf community (capital D) which uses BSL (British Sign Language) as the first or preferred language and has its own cultural identity.]

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