Deaf Christians often find it a challenge to locate a church they can attend because not all churches offer deaf accessible services. To address this need, an organization has set up a database that provides information for deaf Christians looking for churches that can accommodate them.
"Deaf Church Where" is an online directory that lists churches and ministries offering various services for the deaf. Jason Suhr, national engagement coordinator for Deaf Bible Society, an organization providing sign language Bible resources, said he saw the need for such directory because he is all too familiar with the difficulty of finding a church.
"From my personal experience, I was born into and I grew up with a deaf family. So from the time I can remember, we always attended deaf churches," Suhr said, according to Mission Network News.
However, when he left home for college, he found it difficult to locate a church.
"I didn't know where I could find a deaf church, or a ministry that was available to me as a deaf person, which was frustrating," he said, adding that many other deaf Christians in the U.S. are experiencing the same frustration.
Suhr said a similar database already existed, but "it was really outdated." The new online directory set up by Deaf Bible Society will be updated every year to make sure all information is up to date, he said.
Suhr added "Deaf Church Where" is a database that does not only give the locations of churches with deaf accessible services but also lists other relevant information, such as the extent of services they offer for deaf churchgoers.
The database categorizes these churches into four: accessible, integrated, supported and independent. Accessible deaf churches are those that provide an interpreter upon request. Integrated deaf churches offer interpreted services every week.
Supported deaf churches are those wherein one of the services is held using sign language. In such cases, a deaf church and a hearing church work together in partnership. An independent deaf church conducts all ministries and activities in sign language.
Surh invited churches with deaf accessible services to have themselves listed at the directory.
"Since we are constantly updating the directory, we are excited to add information when a new deaf church or ministry becomes available," he said. "So I would encourage you, if you have a deaf church or ministry, check to see if you are listed at Deaf Church Where. If not, reach out to us!"