My name is Audrey ____ &I hope you do not mind that I am e-mailing you. I am not a registered
student or anything like that. I am actually a Teacher of the Deaf. I have my BA & MA degree & have taught deaf
students for the past 8 years & moved on to teaching ASL classes at a local college for 3 years then to the field
of Baby Sign Language once I had my children. I've been in the field for a long time & LOVE it & love your site
My dilemma is this... Since having my kids, I stopped working to be a Stay at Home Mom. I met a great
girl at our new church who expressed to me that she wants to start a Deaf Ministry. She asked if I would like to
be a part of it so I said "wonderful". Apparently she began a Deaf ministry at her old church & taught Sign
classes. In meeting with her to set up our program, I've encountered a few major problems.
1. She is not in the field at all. (She's actually a nurse who has learned sign language from her old pastor
at another church) She does not know many ASL signs (the curriculum they used is all Signed English signs & other
2. She wants to teach the classes even though she is not technically in the field & doesn't know much about
the Deaf Community.
3. Her idea of this "Deaf Ministry" is to teach those interested parties Sign Language (2 ten week semesters)
& to pick the best ones to begin to interpret the services & do outreach.
My feeling on this is...The Sign Language instruction should be ASL signs because that is what is used in the
The Deaf ministry goals as I see it should be to teach people in the church signs so that they can learn how to
communicate with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals when they begin to attend our church so that they can become
a part of the church family.
I don't feel it is right for sign language students, who have only had 2 semesters of classes, to interpret the
service for Deaf patrons . I don't feel that they should be "practicing/training" on the Deaf people coming for
the service. I feel that the Deaf deserve to have qualified signers providing full access to the service. I feel
strongly that we are NOT an Interpreter Training Program & it is wrong to take on this role.
I tried to explain my feelings about all this, but she feels that it worked well in her last ministry
therefore, it WILL work here. She also really feels that Deaf people are very understanding & patient with the
students who are learning & are so happy that they are trying to learn sign language that they won't mind being
She has already talked to the Pastor about the Deaf Ministry. I just have many issues that I do not
necessarily agree with. I truly don't want to hurt her feelings but don't know if I can be involved with this
because of the impending issues.
Now my question to you is... What are your thoughts on this whole issue? Am I being too rigid or unbending in
my beliefs? I like to think of myself as an advocate for the Deaf Community. Am I totally off on this. I have
been in the field for a long time & I know it takes a long time to become an interpreter! A lot longer than 2 ten
week semesters. I know you've had some involvement in Deaf ministry so I would love to know what you've
experienced or what your thoughts are on this issue!
I sincerely hope you respond back to me so I can figure out what I should tell my pastor of what my involvement
will be in this.
Thank you so much for your time, (especially reading my book of an e-mail)
God Bless, Audrey ____