30 Comments

  1. Kelly S

    The church where I most often attend Mass (St. Francis of Assisi in Centerville, OH) has an ALS interpreter present for at least one Mass each weekend & on holidays (maybe more often than that). There is a special section marked “seating for the deaf & hearing impaired” in one of the front pews, and the interpreter sits facing them. The interpreter has a music stand which I assume contains the music, readings, & homily for the Mass. I have seen a couple of different interpreters, and they will interpret the Mass even if no one is seated in the special section. I think it is a lovely thing to add to Mass so that everyone may hear it. I hope your church is able to provide this for your friend.

  2. Kelly S

    Obviously, that should have said “ASL” not “ALS”…my coffee apparently hasn’t kicked in yet this morning!

  3. Jessica K

    I am currently working for the Community Outreach Program for the Deaf, here in Tucson. COPD is part of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona. We provide interpreting services, vocational programs (to help those who are deaf or disabled obtain employment), and counseling services. Interestingly enough, with all the information that we provide on our website – there isn’t one link or section about parishes in the Tucson Diocese that offer ASL interpreting during masses. I might have to suggest this to our director….

    • Hi Jessica. Thanks for the information! Your job sounds very interesting! I hope it is going well.

      If you find resources in the Tuscon area that you can add to your website, that would be terrific. We are getting some very good leads on opportunities to explore for our parish and the Des Moines area.

      Thanks, once again, for commenting.

  4. Liz

    I am an interpreter for a Catholic Church in Orlando. We offer signed masses in several parishes throughout the diocese as well as a mass done in ASL twice a year. For a parish without a signed/interpreted mass I would suggest some online resources:

    Father Michael Depcik, a Deaf priest, posts a weekly homily in ASL on his website as well as occasional teaching videos: http://www.frmd.org/

    Also, a parish in Atlanta puts up a video of the readings and a homily at http://www.transfiguration.org. They aren’t always up on Sunday, but usually soon after.

    There are also some religious education resources here: http://ncod.org/Resources.asp

    Not quite the same as having it during mass – but better than nothing!

    Also, is the parish aware they have a Deaf parishioner? Maybe they would be willing to provide an interpreter?

    • Annette

      Liz, which church in Orlando do you interpret for? I am hearing impaired, currently looking for catholic churches in Orlando to go to for sign language.

    • Donna G

      Here is what the deaf and hard of hearing use for
      Communication Access:

      ASL (American Sign Language) is used by the Culturally Deaf in the USA, CART (real time captioning) or its newer tech version called Remote CART is used by the late deaf, oral deaf and severe to profound hearing loss, ALD’s (Assistive Listening Devices) are used by the hard of hearing (mild and moderate hearing loss). Captioning (CART) can sometimes be used by the culturally Deaf but you need to ask them first. The Hard of Hearing (mild and moderate) can also use captioning but they usually prefer Audio Loops. Again, you need to ask them first. We are diverse you see. We need to break the sound barriers for everyone so they can fully and actively participate and share the Joy of the Gospel to all.

  5. Karey M.

    Lisa, I sent a link to a friend of mine in Missouri who interpreted because her husband was deaf. Maybe she’ll have some ideas.

  6. Steve Weiland

    In Des Moines, Iowa, there has been ASL-interpreted Mass for many, many years. St Catherine’s of Siena parish (in Des Moines) has a very active Deaf Community who serve as Eucharistic Ministers, Parish Council members, Lectors, etc. There is also a deaf Religious Education class. Mass is signed every Sunday at 10:30 and on most religious holidays. Last summer a retreat was lead by a Deaf priest.

  7. Sarah Kirk

    My husband is recently profoundly deaf, and does not know ASL. We use apps that translate the spoken word to text. Has anyone seen a captioning solution at a Catholic Mass? Our parish wants to copy another program, versus starting fresh.

    • jennasouthern

      Please excuse my moment of passion:

      My husband and I have been quite blessed with our experiences in Denver. But first, a little background is always helpful. My husband, Patrick was born with profound deafness. He was raised by a compassionate family, had a fantastic speech-language pathologist, and received both regular school and residential school education in oralism. As you can imagine, even with lip-reading skills, Patrick did not understand the majority of the mass. In college, Patrick elected to learn American Sign Language. Our family currently uses PSE – signing ASL but using English grammar.

      When we moved to the suburbs eight years ago, Patrick was able to truly experience mass for the first time. We attended St. Mark in Highlands Ranch, part of the CoSprings Dioceses. The church was built so the assembly wrapped around the alter – you could see from anywhere inside the church. There were two screens that presented all scripture, song, and prayer. Each week we received a copy of Fr. Larry’s homily notes. Fr. Larry signed the liturgy of the Eucharist with the exception of the consecration. An interpreter was provided for other faith formation. For Patrick, and the d/Deaf community had full access to the mass; it was the perfect set up. Fr. Larry is now at St. Patrick in COSprings. http://stpatscs.org/

      We recently joined a new parish, this time in a different dioceses. We chose it not for Patrick’s benefit, but for the outstanding programs they have for youth. When Patrick asked if it were possible to receive homily notes, we were so shocked to learn the director of liturgy added a Sign Language Interpreter, who is unpaid as it is considered a tithe of time and talent. Perfect, right? Now, however, we are fighting for Patrick’s accessibility due to lack of participation (we are one of two deaf families) and several complaints that the interpreter distracts from the mass. Sigh. We have started looking for a new parish, yet again, and feeling are unsure we will find anything that will accommodate our family’s non-negotiable needs.

      Patrick’s sister lives in Boston and attends a parish with a Deaf priest and a priest fluent in ASL.

      Also, their mother has worked for years to install real-time captioning in at least one church in her dioceses, to no avail.

      In my opinion, real-time captioning is the way to go! Something like 30 million people over the age of 12 have hearing loss in both ears, based on standard hearing exams. There are several products on the market; all are quite expensive. These systems are gaining popularity, especially at sporting events, and also double as alert systems in case of emergency. We are hopeful the expense will go down as the use and need for these products increases. More people need to advocate for such technology! It makes the Catholic mass accessible TO ALL who speak and read English.

  8. People with Meniere’s Disease are another group who need accomodations in order to be at Mass. I cannot be around high-pitched sounds like screaming babies & children, certain pitches of music, etc. I’m sick for several days afterwards with vomiting, vertigo, migraines, & deafness due to these sounds. There’s one parish, an hour’s drive from us, that offers a silent Mass that attracts people with various hearing problems. Some people who don’t need a quiet Mass also come because they find the silence more conducive to prayer & worship. There’s no music, no babies or preschool age or younger children. It works well for people like me & for parishioners who cannot hear in the “big church” due to its strange shape that blocks sound from travelling throughout the building.

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