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(Note: This is a continuing series of articles about Special Needs Deaf (SND) — Deaf people who need special teaching methods.)

  1. Do not Assume They Understand – Examples (continued)

  2. (Previous Points: Bible Stories, Bible Words, Places, History)

  3. Bible Culture – Remember to teach historical, cultural events. Many things in the Bible might be confusing to the deaf. There are things practiced many years ago that are not done now. For example, Jewish weddings are in the Bible. But they are very different from weddings in the modern world. The Bible also has many other differences from the modern world that will need to be explained. Fishing, growing food, and many other things are different. Explain the historical, cultural differences so they can understand. Act out the differences until they are understood.

    Things/objects – There are many things that the deaf may have never seen. This may include everyday or Biblical objects. For example, when teaching about Samson, many of the deaf did not know what honey was. I went out and bought some honey and allowed them to taste it. Make sure they know the things that are in the lessons or sermons.
  4. Use Only Signs You Have Taught Them
    Do not use a sign until you have taught that sign to them or you know for sure they know the sign. If you sign as you normally would, do not expect them to understand you automatically. Remember, these are a special group of deaf people. You cannot expect them to know what you know. Once they know, they know! Use songs and other methods only after they know the signs.

    A few years ago, I was in a SND deaf class. The teacher began to sing, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus.” Most deaf I have taught do not understand the sign “grace.” But she was signing this “hard” song with deaf who, between them all, only understood 20 signs or so. They copied the song, but had no idea what “grace” meant. Use simple songs according to their level of understanding.

    (Editor’s Note: Clearly explaining certain Bible words to hearing people can often take several minutes and involve using several illustrations. It takes longer for people who have limited vocabulary or limited knowledge of Biblical terms. During the first part of the lesson, teachers may need to teach new words, illustrate them, then quiz the class about their meaning. When everyone understands, then teach the lesson. – jb) – More Next Time

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