How Shall They Hear: Lifetime Friends
By Pat Gardiner
Does captioning for an entire congregation seem overwhelming to you? You may not need to do that. Roger Thome from Jackson, Mich., e-mailed us with his story. He captioned for a married couple, both totally deaf, and, in the process, made lifetime friends!
Roger explained, "I didn't really caption for a church. What I did was, when I first found out about realtime and how 'neat' it was, I went looking for somebody to 'help.'
"In my parish I found a married couple who were both totally deaf. They were born deaf. And they had four beautiful children, three boys and one girl, with the girl being the oldest, and all the children were born with perfect hearing." Roger went to visit the family and found out that, rather than signing, English was their primary language. They learned how to communicate by reading lips and speaking.
"So, I showed them realtime, and they were fascinated. The thing they really missed the most in the church setting was the sermon. The rest they could pretty much follow from the books, but the sermon was easy to miss because the priest's lips were hard to read from a distance of any sort, whatsoever.
"I beefed up my job dictionary by sitting in the hallway of church, during many services, and just writing. Then when I felt my dictionary was good enough to start, we started." Every Sunday Roger would call the family and make arrangements about which mass he would realtime for them.
Roger did this for two to three years. Eventually, due to a conflict in the husband's schedule, the captioning was discontinued. "However, I did realtime the Confirmation Ceremony for three of their four children. That was a special time, too. And one of the boys asked me to be his sponsor for Confirmation. That was an honor."
Roger summed it all up by saying it was a wonderful experience, and he still feels good about it. As he noted, "I, along with my wife, also, in the process, made lifetime friends with these people."
Staying with our most frequently asked question, "How do I get started?": How about visiting a church that already has captioning like a court reporting student from Buffalo, N.Y., did? Georgia Harter came to visit us in Milton, Ontario, Canada, and even brought along a technical person from her church. Georgia said, "The main reason I began court reporting school is because I've worked with deaf and hearing-impaired people for the last 10 years, and I know the shortcomings of our most advanced hearing aids and how much these groups of people miss out in public gatherings. I was fascinated by an article I read about CART providers, and I simply wanted to learn how to do that so I could help bridge some gaps - the first gap being to make my own local church accessible.
"I greatly appreciated the opportunity to take a short drive north of the border to meet Pat Gardiner and some of her team members at New Life Church in Milton, Ontario. I am only halfway through court reporting school, and some might argue years away from being able to realtime at church or anywhere else for that matter. But, regardless of that, Pat graciously hosted me and a friend, Gregg Cavagnaro, who is by trade a camera and computer person and will lead our church's efforts to acquire the right technology for this project.
"It was very good for both of us to experience firsthand what they are doing. They not only provided us with great technical information (and reassurances of help down the road!), but meeting John and Kathy Ford - people in their congregation who so appreciate the captions - reinforced that this is a vital outreach and an opportunity that we should not ignore.
"We are still a very long way off, but I am excited about the prospect of joining ranks with people like Pat Gardiner and Terry Wood and all the others on her team. Meeting them has encouraged me to keep working hard!"
We have started a list of people who have captioned or are captioning now for churches. Please let us know if you are one of them. Your encouragement to someone wanting to start captioning for a church may be very much appreciated!
Please e-mail us for more information or if you have anything you would like to share on realtiming in a religious setting.
About the Author:
Pat Gardiner is from Milton, Ontario, Canada. Please forward your ideas and comments to her at email@example.com or visit her site about CART/Captioning in churches- http://www.newlife-milton.org/captioning/2nd.htm.