Don’t Be Out of Your Depth with Deaf People in Church

New Deaf Awareness Video available 

If you don’t know sign language, meeting someone at church who is d/Deaf* may seem scary. How could you communicate? 
Answer: a new free Deaf Awareness training video for churches or ministries available from disability charity Through the Roof(@TTRChangesLives).

Revd Neil Robinson, Chaplain to the Deaf community in Salisbury, presents this training resource in British Sign Language (BSL), with subtitles and voice-over. 
The idea came from Through the Roof’s Deaf Ministry Roofbreaker Network.

Neil tells you what to do if someone arrives at your church who is d/Deaf, including how to book BSL interpreters, and other communication tactics.

Neil’s top tips if a d/Deaf person comes to your church for the first time:

  • Smile and show they are welcome! Don’t panic – just try to communicate.
  • Ask if they can lip read – point to your mouth to show what you mean.
  • If you can’t sign, you may be able to use written messages and gestures.
  • Don’t assume all d/Deaf people have the same communication needs –people may lip read or sign in BSL, or use other forms of signing.
  • Always look at the d/Deaf person – speak to them directly, not to a person accompanying them.
  • If a d/Deaf person visits, never ever pray for them to hear without asking! They know their prayer needs, and being d/Deaf may be their identity.

Neil’s video with sage advice, cheerful encouragement and practical suggestions is available at:

or to download at:

The training video is 18 minutes long and has four parts:

  1. An introduction
  2. How to communicate with a d/Deaf person
  3. A variety of communication tactics
  4. Link to spiritual issues and spiritual well-being.

Neil says, ‘d/Deaf people are valuable to God; God loves them just as they are’.

For a video of Revd Neil’s personal story – see Rev Neil’s Story – YouTube

* The term d/Deaf is used to cover both the wider deaf population (small d), including those who are hard of hearing, and the Deaf community (capital D) which uses BSL (British Sign Language) as the first or preferred language and has its own cultural identity.

Through the Roof supports churches and church leaders with free training and resources to promote Christian disability inclusion – see and @TTRChangesLives.

Notes: Through the Roof trains and equips churches and other organisations to be inclusive of people with any disability. It publishes resource material, runs short term overseas missions, distributes refurbished wheelchairs in developing countries and runs accessible holidays, among other programmes. We make the Christian gospel accessible to everyone affected by disability – disabled people and their families.

For more information please contact:

Janet Eardley (
Through the Roof
Alpha House, Alpha Place,
Garth Road,
Morden, Surrey, SM4 4TQ

Tel: 01372 749955

Please visit for information, news and resources

Through the Roof Charitable Trust Ltd. Is a UK Registered Company number 04201510 with offices at Alpha House, Alpha Place, Garth Road, Morden, Surrey, SM4 4TQ. It is also a Registered Charity Number 1087788.