Welcoming All: Deaf-Friendly Worship Services


The following are recommendations from the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries (a committee of Global Ministries) for improving accessibility and inclusion for Deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and Deafblind people who may join your congregation for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services. Those services are planned and bulletins printed for us here in North Georgia Conference churches, but the lessons shared below will last all year.

* If you have an interpreter, be sure to promote it. 
* Do not dim the lights all the way as Deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and Deafblind people still need visual access (e.g. To seeing the interpreter, for lip reading, or prevent a Deafblind person from seeing anything at all). 
* Learn some Christmas-related signs and use them during the service. Here is a YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9JD-Tg1qCo&t=172s 
* Have a children’s choir or a youth choir sign a Christmas carol or sign a refrain. Here’s a YouTube link for Joy to the World: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX4s3zwbe5M 
* Include a short Christian drama, as it’s visual. 
* Use visuals throughout the service, such as multimedia. 
* Use a sound system with a microphone and/or offer an assisted listening device or system. This will assist hard of hearing and late-deafened people who rely on audio to have full inclusion. 
* Be sure to have a few large-print bulletins (& inserts) on hand for any Deafblind individuals (not all Deafblind are fully blind, many are only partially-blind). 
* If you do not have an interpreter, offer a copy of the sermon and any worship notes that will substitute. Do not panic if a Deaf person comes. Some will still come regardless of an interpreter – it’s Christmas Eve!

Need Congregational Resources? Consider one of the following: 
1. A Brief Guide to Sign Language Interpreting (& how to acquire them) https://www.umdeaf.org/download/sign.pdf 
2. A Guide to Ministry with Hard of Hearing and Late-Deafened People https://www.umdeaf.org/download/bg_hoh.pdf 
3. A Guide to Hospitality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Visitors https://www.umdeaf.org/download/hospitality.pdf 

Visit the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries website at www.umdeaf.org. Contact Rev. Leo Yates, Jr. from this committee at leoyjr@gmail.com for consultation needs. 

In North Georgia, contact Rev. Stephen Taylor, disabilities ministries chair, at staylor@mountpisgah.org.