Thursday, September 18, 2008

Deaf and Hard of hearing concerns

As a hard of hearing or Deaf person, how can your place of worship accommodate you better?


dbartzur said...

roselle said...
How about deaf concerns? If I use my hearing aids in conservative temple the loudspeaker and the choir overpower the digitals at certain frequencies and I will hear LALALA (singing) and peeppeeppeepeeepeeep (hearing aid interference) turn them off, I hear nothing. at the orthodox service, I hear a drone. It's supposed to be people saying the prayers out loud but I can't understand it. I can't follow. I don't have a terp. I'm the ONLY ONE who doesn't hear.

Now, if the shofar blows and the deaf person doesn't hear it does that mean there was no sound and no mitzvah? If I intend to hear it, then I have a mitzvah but I can intend to hear shofar anywhere any day!

I'm confused. I'm upset and I'm not too happy with the way things are in the world of religion for Jewish deaf people.

October 2, 2008 5:23 PM

dbartzur said...

Hi Roselle!

I had intended that "War Stories" would be for Deaf people to air their conerns about what needs to improve in accessibility for Jewish events. Then I decided to rename "Hard of Hearing concers" to "Deaf and Hard of Hearin concerns". There are quite a few portions of the service, especially in the beginning where a lot of the prayers are said in an undertone, so they would sound garbled to anyone, but I see you are still missing the parts that should be clear to someone with average hearing. It's not a great option, but if you could find someone who was friendly in the women's section that could show you the page number and when it is more vital, like the Shema and the Amidah (Shmoneh Esreh), maybe they could run their fingers along the words as they are spoken to show the exact spot.

If there is an interpreter training program in your area, you could ask the director to help you find a student who is willing to be mentored by you, in the sense that you would help them learn how to satisfy your needs and perhaps you could "pay them back" by having regular conversations with them in ASL, to help them improve.

As to the question about hearing the shofar, it is best if you don't use your hearing aids at all and stand very close, even put your hand on the shofar if the Baal Tekiah is willing to allow you or hold a balloon and feel the vibrations. If you can hear anything at all you have fulfilled the mitzvah. For more details, see my summary of R. Shuchatowitz' discussion at Chapter 4. The books is under construction but it will give you some ideas. For a reference to where to get R. S's short pamphlet, seeChapter 1. at the end (1.3.3). I hope this helps.

methree said...

I'd like them to be welcoming and affirming, but I suppose accommodation is a first step ;)

They could provide interpreters and inform that they are providing interpreters. Our local deaf/hh e-mail listserv announces multiple (various christian religious denominations) accessible (interpreted) events--zero are Jewish. Our local deaf community has at least one deaf (signing) church.

I am too Jewish to go to the church, but I've actually considered it. Also most members of the deaf community I have met who have Jewish parent(s) do not have a Jewish identity or go to services. I don't think they feel connected with the Jewish religion/community.

I am deaf and I sign; I am also functionally hard of hearing and can read Hebrew. I avoid going to services in part because I don't feel welcome and I feel left out when the Rabbi does a sermon or when I can't follow along by figuring out what page we are on--in other words, no interpreter.

dbartzur said...

You have probably read what I said to roselle, but "If there is an interpreter training program in your area, you could ask the director to help you find a student who is willing to be mentored by you, in the sense that you would help them learn how to satisfy your needs and perhaps you could 'pay them back' by having regular conversations with them in ASL, to help them improve." If there is no interpreter training program in your area, you could contact the interpreting agency in your area and tell them you would offer the same thing to one of the working terps.

dbartzur said...

Hi Roselle!

Have you approached you rabbi about your need in terms of how you have been thinking of going to a church if you can't get any access to your place or worship? Rabbis need to hear this. I have hear of several other cases where Deaf Jews have started attending church because they had no access to their own religion. Sad. Some synagogues/temples have discretionary funds they can use for things like interpreters, or they can ask for someone who is willing to be a donor, and finally apply for a grant.

Spritual Nomad said...

When I lived in DC, accomodations were pretty good; they improved even more after I left. Shucks. Now that I live in the southwest, I'm extremely frustrated, not just with communication- I actually can speak and hear in quiet settings... but there's only a few shuls here, and to be honest- eh.

I prefer the conservative shul since I'm comfortable with the service and am able to follow, but everyone there is old enough to be my parents or grandparents, and I'm in my 30s! I went to the reform one, and uh, no... It was too "Kumbaya-ish" for me. I felt like I was in church! Then there's Chabad. I'm okay with them, but I don't understand a word the Rabbi says. I've been going regularly for almost a year, but I haven;t been there since Hanukkah.

The reason- They have a huge Hanukkah party every year... so big that they have to rent a room from the convention center, and even the mayor shows up. At least 200 hundred people come. I knew several deaf people planned to attend, to I emailed the Chabad Rabbi (who sponsors it), his wife, a couple of other rabbis, and some other people. I resent it another time. Not one person answered. I later found out that the Rabbi approved it and put it on his wife to get in touch with me and work it out, but she never did. They never apologized or anything. Nevertheless, I haven't been back since. Unfortunately, these three congregations are all that's available. There's a reconstructionist one, but I'm not interested in that. There's a rabbi here that works for the Jewish Federation who wants to have regular interpreted services soon, and was one of the people I contacted... but nothing. I'm considering moving back to DC or somewhere where there's a large deaf Jewish population. I don't know.