If you have attended church over the past seven months, in person or online, you will have noticed an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter participating in leading worship. We have had a variety of interpreters over this period of time, each with her own interpreting style and level of experience interpreting in a Christian worship setting.

We are fortunate to be working with Interpretek, the largest full service ASL agency in the nation, headquartered right here in Rochester. Interpretek refers qualified, experienced, local ASL interpreters to help us make worship more accessible to members of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communiy.

Rochester, NY is home to the Rochester School for the Deaf, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at RIT and approximately 90,000 Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals—the second-largest Deaf community in the nation. A member of the Deaf community joined our church this last year. She was attracted to us by our warm welcome, progressive theology, social ministry, and our interest in getting to know her. Our hope is that ASL interpretation will allow us to welcome even more members of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

As coordinator of our expanding ASL ministry, I intend to periodically share more about our interpreting services, Deaf culture, and other news of interest. Therefore, I encourage you to send me your thoughts and questions. I would love to hear from you so we can explore together ways to welcome and embrace new Deaf and hard-of-hearing members of our church family.

In the meantime, please watch our interpreter during the worship services. See if you can pick up some signs or see how her facial expression, body language, and signing help to interpret the message. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Robb Adams, ASL Coordinator