In New York, worship becomes more accessible to the deaf.

Discussion in 'Sign Language & Deaf Education' started by rabbit, Sep 4, 2006.

  1. rabbit

    rabbit New Member

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    (First, let me say that I'm not sure if this should be in the Religious boards, so if it should, sorry for posting it here and mods can move it)

    In New York, worship becomes
    more accessible to the deaf

    BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—As the afternoon services began, more than 200 members of two Brooklyn congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses started to "sing."

    The hearing members listened to the taped music and sang along with the familiar melody. At the same time, the deaf members turned to the television monitors scattered throughout the auditorium and began to follow along with a videotape of the same hymn signed as a silent poem.

    No longer were the deaf members off to one side, signing the words of the hymn through an interpreter. Today, thanks to modern technology and design, as well as a respect for deaf culture, voices and hands shared in the service side by side.

    A newly completed house of worship in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn stands as visible evidence of a growing trend to accommodate the spiritual needs of the deaf.

    The building at 517 46th Street, near Fifth Avenue, is the first of its kind in the United States—a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses built from the ground up with the needs of the deaf community in mind.

    "Many buildings are retrofitted to accommodate the visual needs of sign language," said Jeremy Mallory, an elder with the Brooklyn Sign Language Congregation. "However, from the beginning, the Kingdom Hall was designed with the deaf community in mind."

    More than 600 attended today's opening day events, which included members of the six congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses who use the new building. The sign language congregation shares the facilities with four Spanish congregations and one English congregation. Sign language and English-speaking members met together for the afternoon opening day program.

    Unique features

    Adaptations to the Kingdom Hall's design include the use of television monitors, indirect lighting, a sloped floor in the main auditorium, and a higher stage. Overhead projectors and white boards are used with the Bible study programs.

    While the physical features of the building are unusual, the fact that all services are provided in sign language is just as unique, said Calvin Calandra, a member of the Sign Language Congregation. Although many religious groups provide interpretation of services for the deaf, the Brooklyn Sign Language Congregation actually provides all services in American Sign Language; sermons are given by ministers fluent in the language, many of whom are deaf themselves.

    "It is so much better to hear what is being said directly in your language, rather than going through an interpreter," Calandra said. "When I invite other deaf people here, they always assume that they are going to a service with an interpreter. They are surprised to find out that the entire program is in their language."
    Tactile signing
    Leo Calandra, who is deaf, communicates with fellow congregation member Richard Bernstein, who is blind and deaf, by signing into his hands—a technique called tactile signing.

    The congregation also provides tactile signing for the deaf and blind.

    The 3,000-square foot auditorium, which seats 176, was built entirely with volunteer labor. Construction was finished in less than nine months.

    Jehovah's Witnesses have 68 sign language congregations and Bible study groups in the United States and have produced video publications in 12 sign languages. A second sign language Kingdom Hall is under construction in Washington, D.C. Altogether, the Witnesses have 5,965 Kingdom Halls in the United States.

    Jehovah's Witnesses form a worldwide Christian faith with some six million members. Wherever possible, they conduct services and provide Bibles and Bible-study literature in the native languages of those who live in the community. They publish in more than 350 languages. Jehovah's Witnesses view the deaf as a distinct language group.

    [​IMG]
    Leo Calandra, who is deaf, communicates with fellow congregation member Richard Bernstein, who is blind and deaf, by signing into his hands—a technique called tactile signing.

     
  2. Interpretrator

    Interpretrator Crime fighter Premium Member

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    I have many issues with Jehovah's Witnesses, but in this they are certainly WELL ahead of most of the rest of the world. If only other institutions -- religious, educational, medical, whatever! -- would follow their design lead, not to mention their views on deafness!
     
  3. robbielyn

    robbielyn New Member

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    Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. And he commanded in Matthew 28:20 to "Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations." In this Jehovah's Witnesses take delight in helping people of all faiths, races, languages and poor and rich alike worldwide. Jehovah God our Creator desires all to be saved and given a hope for the future of a world of peace and world without sickness and death. Psalms 37:10,11; Revelation 21:3-5. Jesus said in John 13:34,35 that "By this all will know you are my disciples if you have love among yourselves." It is this mark of LOVE that would indentify the true religion that would be supported by that very one, (Jesus), the one who had the above scripture recorded for us. Jehovah's Witnesses truly love their neighbor and have a wonderful hope for the future that only God's Kingdom,(the one we pray for in the lord's prayer) can bring. Man has failed people, as your above quote shows. They try mind you, but the problems of the world are too big for imperfect man to solve. Only a very powerful person (Jesus) can bring about true peace and security. :) Robbielyn
     
  4. robbielyn

    robbielyn New Member

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    Just to quickly add, the article mentioned above is 6 years old. We have added many many more groups and congregations worldwide for the deaf. I currently joined a group in spring hill, florida. We are rapidly growing into a congregation now. Won't be long. Two of the three meetings we hold each week are in full ASL without an interpreter. On tuesday nights though we have interpreters as we are still currently a group under the umbrella of the hearing congregation. But once we become a congregation, then all three meetings will be conducted in full ASL. We are having a two day assembly at plant city, fl this weekend, sept 9,10th. Free and open to the public. 1300 people will be there from the southeast states. Come join us if you can! Robbielyn
     
  5. rabbit

    rabbit New Member

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    Yep, in the area I live in, within 2 hours drive in any direction there are 4 ASL kingdom halls for not just JW's but ANYONE interested in a bible-based discussion and/or free bible study... I go to one in Springfield MA, that is mainly how I am learning ASL and becoming acquainted with the deaf comunity/culture, it's so much fun, I REALLY love ASL now and I'm sooo glad I'm learning it, not to mention it's a very fulfilling work to teach people what the Bible says!
     
  6. jsann138

    jsann138 Member

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    Thanks Rabbit,

    This is a wonderful article. I am serving in the ASL group in Cincinnati, Ohio.
    One of the most wonderful things that has happen to me.

    In our host congreagation there are people who speak many other languages, Russian, Spanish, Patwah, French, Chinese, Japanese. Some are also learning to sign in those languages. It is a wonderful thing that Jehovah is doing for the deaf.

    The good news is truly being preached in "all the nations" (Matthew 24:14)
    in many languages inculding Sign languages. I am very happy to be part of
    a wonderful group of people who are interseted in the welfare of others. :h5:
     
  7. rabbit

    rabbit New Member

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    A man from our hall just got back from the international deaf convention in Poland (I think it was in Poland, right?) There were something like 20,000 signing people there, he took video of it and made a movie which he showed us durring a public talk, it was so awesome to see the differant dialects of sign language and all the translators and the deaf-blind people all gathered together, it was an AWESOME video!
     
  8. robbielyn

    robbielyn New Member

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    Wow, Three of us on here guess we ought to maybe pm each other and introduce ourselves. I grew up learning PSE back in the early 80's in the deaf section at the assemblies before the society switched over to ASL. I used to interpret there. But learning ASL from a book impossible, and there were no deaf where I lived so never learned it until now. It truly is a beautiful language. Last night at the Tampa congregation, we had a hearing District Overseer sign the songs eventhough he didn't know sign language, he did good too. I love hearing him speak. But Tampa is the host congregation for our ASL circuit assembly this weekend in plant city. So it was awesome. I love hearing him give talks, he reminds me of Jesus with the way he uses illustrations so well. Nice to meet you both. Robbielyn :)
     
  9. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    Religious forum, pls.
     
  10. robbielyn

    robbielyn New Member

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    We can't do that in that forum because we consider ourselves completely separate from all other religions. Also, I think it is possible for people to see this and decide from the title, oh I think I'll skip this thread. Or even if they read the first post and realize in more detail that they wouldn't want to go on reading it. I did request the other two and I pm or email for this exact reason however. But we aren't hurting anyone. So just don't read it if it offends you. I don't read things that offend me. If I happen upon it I just go to another thread. I don't ask for it to be moved. If they can talk about gays without repercussions, we can talk amongst ourselves about our beliefs, but it is ASL oriented as we are just thrilled about learning such a beautiful language. This thread is one of many threads and it is topic oriented just from a religious perspective that is all. So after reading this post in response to yours, don't read it anymore then it won't bother you. :)
     
  11. jillio

    jillio New Member

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    This forum is re: sign language vs. oralism. Religious forum is open to all religions. That is the place for discussions regarding religious beliefs. Yes you can talk amongst yourselves about your beliefs--that's why they have a pm system.
     
  12. rabbit

    rabbit New Member

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    It doesn't matter what forum this is in, it's still the exact same info, so unless the mods see fit to move this thread, then there is no use even discussing where it should be located.
     
  13. jsann138

    jsann138 Member

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    Hey!
    Sorry I have not been online lately but, let me tell you there where four sisters in our ASL in Cincinnati, Ohio group that went to Poland and they gave their experince and brought back pictures it was so wonderful. They did'nt have video I would like to have seen that!

    Keep posting articles its a good thing!

    jsann (Philemon 3)
     
  14. society's_child

    society's_child New Member

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    Hello, my fellow JW's! :)
     
  15. society's_child

    society's_child New Member

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    Did you get my pm?
     
  16. robbielyn

    robbielyn New Member

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    Hi everyone. Glad there is more than one witness on here to talk with. We just had a brother from Dominican Republic give a talk in ASL. Understood him perfectly. He spelled out matteo for matthew and asaf for asaph but other than that he did well. He is a special pioneer. He goes home tomorrow. He is getting married in december. His name is otniel. Next week we are having two of our elders give their first talk in asl, they are doing a symposium. That will be exciting. This campaign is awesome isn't it? No experiences yet to report but hope next week to have some. I am interpreting my first part next tuesday night on the service meeting. I am the assistant so just demo's and answers. I am a little nervous but I saw a spanish brother get up and interpret asl eventhough his english is a little limited. He did surprisingly good. Must be Jehovah's spirit. Well that's all I have to report for right now. Robbielyn
     
  17. OranjePaard

    OranjePaard New Member

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    hi my fellow sisters and brothers, I am JW myself in Rome sign language group (That's in Rome, New York not Italy). I am glad to hear you guys in this forum.

    SM
     
  18. society's_child

    society's_child New Member

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    Hey there. :)
     
  19. robbielyn

    robbielyn New Member

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    Hey oranjepaard, I am familiar with Rome. I am from fulton orginally and back in the early 80's there was a deaf section at our assemblies and rome and utica was in our circuit #21. That was before the society got the deaf together for their own assemblies. We had interpreters back then. Anyways I was friends with Kristi Tayshak,(sp) her mom's name is Barbara. Kristi is probably married now. Like I said this was 20 years ago. And I know the Roaches from Rome north cong. My name is Robbielyn McCrary. (maiden was helmer). Now I am here in florida in the spring hill east congregation we have an asl group. We are all of 25 with about 5 deaf that come regularly. But I am near Tampa and slip down there to visit their Deaf cong every once in a while. Robbielyn
     
  20. robbielyn

    robbielyn New Member

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    I had my first interpreting assignment in asl this past tuesday. On tuesday nights we meet with the english cong. for school and service meeting and I was the assistant interpreter. I interpreted the audience comments and experiences. I used to interpret years ago but using signed english. But I did alright for only knowing asl for 8 months. But I am in no hurry to interpret again. I was nervous and couldn't wait for it to be over with lol! December 18th I have my second talk. It should've been my fourth but one was assigned the week of our district assembly so that was cancelled and one week i had an assignment but no one told me some mix up. That's ok it so happened both those times wouldn't been good for me. We go in the back for talks 2,3 and 4 in asl. The highlights be book and instruction talk is done with the english. So we have interpreters for that and for the service meeting.
     

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