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Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Signing the times - (3) 8Feb2006

This Synod has for the first time welcomed 3 members of the Deaf church amongst their members. In the debate on Reader ministry, Synod received its first (ever?) signed speech. For those of us yet not fully conversant in British Sign Language, (on this occasion, with a Synodical ecclesiastical regional accent) translators were on hand (!) to provide an interpretation that we could more fully ‘hear’.

There had been some murmurings from a few members of this new Synod querying why the deaf church was being supported in this way, over other groups potentially also needing support. As one who might have reason to pursue that line of argument - but does not - a blind member of Synod, comments that there are more financial considerations to supporting the deaf community, particularly with the need for provision of interpreters etc.

Much material is now provided, and can be manipulated, in electronic format these days, making for less isolated, and better-informed members, whatever their ability level.

Many people who have trained in some of the (urgh…) ‘caring professions’ will have had the opportunity perhaps to try, using blindfolds or scratched glasses, ear plugs, leg splints and heavy weights around wrists and ankles - if only for an hour or two - to share something of others experiences.

Just occasionally, sharing an experience like that - even briefly - can radically alter a mind-set. In a small way, ‘seeing’ that speech, and hearing it interpreted, gave Synod members that ‘boot-on-the-other-foot’ encounter.

I don’t expect we will hear murmurings from any members about provision for our deaf colleagues again.

Alastair GS101

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