TRANSCRIPT | Building Bridges in the Deaf Community with Jess Laws

In Episode 48 we spoke to Jess Laws about Building Bridges with the Deaf Community. To begin building those bridges we’ve provided a transcript of the episode.

Hopefully, as we continue podcasting, we can provide transcripts for all episodes as a way to encourage persons who are deaf or hard of hearing to burn haystacks with us!

Josh Stothers
Alright Jess welcome to the podcast! It’s so good to have you, we’ve been trying to tee this up for ages. For those of our listeners who don’t know, please let us all know who you are.

Jess Laws
Well, my name is Jessica Laws, I was at college at the same time as both of you guys, but I actually knew Josh a bit more than Jesse. I was a bridesmaid for Josh and Danelle’s wedding, which is one of my claims to fame, I was their official third wheel; a big part of my identity! I studied psychology and then counselling for a bit; have not since worked as a counsellor but have worked as a youth pastor; and am currently studying sign language.

Josh Stothers
I can confirm, Jess was our official third wheel. There was a lot of times where I thought Danelle and I would be going on a date and Jess would come along.

Jess Laws
Aha I’m so sorry!

Josh Stothers
No, I actually love hanging out with you Jess, so that was fine.

Jess Laws
You sure it wasn’t me and Danelle going on a date and you just joined us?

Josh Stothers
Ah that could have totally been a possibility actually. Now that I reflect, that’s probably more likely.

Jesse Herford
Ha I was going to say were you their chaperone? Making sure they weren’t getting up to any untoward behaviour?

Jess Laws
Ah yeah?? Let’s go with that.

Jesse Herford
So, you said before, and the reason that we are talking to you today is that you study sign language! Can you tell us a little bit more about what interested you about getting into that?

Jess Laws
My interest actually started a long time ago in high school, for a really strange reason, I guess. Have you guys ever had a lockdown at school where you’ve had to be completely silent and hide?

Josh Stothers
Oh! As if a terrorist was coming or something? Yeah, we had a great one once where we were all in the art room and because art teachers never care, we just barricaded all the doors with the chairs and everything and she was like “stop it, it’s just a test”, we were like “we will not stop, we could be in danger!”

Jess Laws
We had one when we were in a chapel, so there was my entire grade of about 200 people in this one big room and we had to be deadly silent. Getting a bunch of Year 9 kids to be completely silent was near impossible. But in the back of our diaries, was the Australian Sign language alphabet (Auslan) and then (me and my friend) decided to start fingerspelling words back and forwards to each other so we could have a conversation. But I don’t think we got very far because it does take a while.

Josh Stothers
Like each individual letter?

Jess Laws
Yeah like H-O-W A-R-E Y-O-U it takes a while. After that moment I though oh this is kind of cool, you can talk to someone in silence! So, I looked up some books in the library, thought it was really interesting but didn’t really think much more of it because my school didn’t offer it as a subject. I wish! Then when I was at Avondale, I found this TV show (I’m kind of embarrassed to admit how much I love it) called Switched at Birth – one of those family shows, but I love it.

Jesse Herford
I think I know what you’re talking about, it’s like the parent trap situation where they grow up in different families?

Jess Laws
Yeah, one of the girls who got switched is a Deaf girl, so when they realise and get mixed in each other's lives and there is all this Deaf Culture in it, and the language. I was so intrigued, so decided to teach myself some sign language. I went on YouTube and typed in ‘sign language’ and did some tutorial videos to learn a few words – and then about three pages worth of listed words though I realised that I had been teaching myself American Sign Language, which is completely different. It is a one-handed alphabet and only like 10% of the words are the same, so I was like “ah I give up, it’s too hard to start again!”

Josh Stothers
But now you’re like semi-prepared if you go to America and need to do some emergency singing, you’ve got 3 pages of words!

Jess Laws
I’ve probably forgotten them all by now. But I didn’t think much more of it after that and then like 2-3 years after college it popped back into my head for no reason, and I found this one course 20 minutes away from my house; a short 6-week introductory course. I enrolled and fell in love with it and have been in love with it ever since!

Josh Stothers
That’s so cool, because I think that most people that I meet who know sign language it's because they have a family member or something like that?

Jesse Herford
Do you have any family members who are deaf?

Jess Laws
I wish! Cause some people grow up with their cousin is deaf of their parents are deaf (CODA) and its their first language! And I'm so jealous of them cause now I'm working so hard to learn a second language! But now, I like to think that I have Deaf friends! And that’s only since I've gotten to know the language and been immersed in the community.

Jesse Herford
You mentioned before we started, in Australia do you know how many people are deaf? Because you walk around and see someone in a wheelchair and you instantly know they have some sort of disability, but you would never know they are Deaf.

Jess Laws
Yeah, it’s a very hard statistic to grasp. It’s separate to a disability in the sense that they are still able to do things; one of their favourite phrases is that “The only thing we can’t do is hear”. So sometimes I guess it is grouped in with that disability statistic, but when you are trying to look at how many are deaf, the Census asks, “what language do you use at home” and not all Deaf people use Auslan at home because a lot of them have been brought up in hearing families. So, they may have been brought up oral – trying to speak and lip read, some are Hard of Hearing (HoH) – somewhere on that scale between hearing and deaf, some just need hearing aids, some just rely on lip reading, so it is a very hard statistic to get. But from my extensive (chuckle) internet research, the RIDBC is the biggest Deaf school in Sydney – they are saying that by the end of secondary school more than 3/1000 children will require assistance because of hearing loss. That gives you some kind of idea of how much of it is out there, but it’s really hard to tell.

Jesse Herford
As you mentioned, the range is so vast. I’ve known people for many years and its only after being in their lives for a little while that you don’t even realise, they have some kind of hearing impairment. And some are so proficient, and they can speak so well and yet their life is so different to everybody else in a way.

Jess Laws
Yeah, I’ll catch you out on that one actually; when you say hearing-impairment they actually prefer Hard of Hearing or hearing loss. There is a big history there and they were really strongly discriminated against, so words like impairment has a lot of derogatory terms associated with it and lot of people don’t know that.

Jesse Herford
Oh wow, thank you, I didn’t even realise!

Josh Stothers
That’s the mainstream language you hear all the time, that’s so interesting.

Jesse Herford
So, something of interest to me is your background in counselling and then also being a youth pastor, they are actually pretty compatible roles in a way – and now it’s to sign language. How do you see those spheres crossing over?

Jess Laws
The thing that really hooked me in where I was like I’m going to take learning Auslan seriously was at an Adventist Deaf Camp that they run yearly, run both by Lee Dunstan who runs the Christian Services for the Blind and Hearing Impaired (CSBHI) for the South Pacific Division (SPD), plus one church in Brisbane called Logan Reserve have worked together to organise these camps. I went along to one and got to meet all these people that were connected to the Adventist church but a lot of them don’t come regularly or haven’t come for years purely because they can’t hear the sermon or no-one is making the effort to communicate with them however that may be, so they kind of drop off the radar, I was really feeling this passion in my heart, like I love this language but now I love these people. I just want to get in there and be like if you want to come to church now you can because I can interpret for you. So that’s the goal, but we’ll see how long it takes until I'm a fully qualified interpreter.

Josh Stothers
How long does that usually take?

Jess Laws
So, I’ve just finished my first year which is Certificate 2 and Certificate 3. This year coming up is Cert 4 and Diploma Auslan then the third year is Diploma of Interpreting. So, its 3 years full time.

Jesse Herford
And you’re doing that while you're working as a youth pastor, having a side hustle trying to survive?

Jess Laws
Yeah unfortunately study doesn’t pay so yep.

Jesse Herford
Could you for our podcast audience, I mean the irony is not lost on any of us that this is an audio format and were talking about deafness. But for our podcast audience who have perhaps never had a friendship with someone who is Deaf or a family member, I'm sure you’ve gained a lot of insight, when it comes to somebody is hard of hearing; whatever the scale range be for them, what's it like for them and church? Like when they think okay, I'm a person of faith when they want to attend a church what's it like for them when they actually have to think about what church they want to attend and the overall experience?

Jess Laws
It’s hard, there isn’t a lot of options for them out there. Depending if they are profoundly deaf then they are going to have to rely on either amazing lip-reading skills – which they say you only catch 20% of what is being said – or having an interpreter there or someone that knows sign language to communicate with them and explain what’s going on in the sermons and the songs. When it comes to HoH when they can hear a little bit, some people can rely on hearing aids, often they’ll still need to be able to see your lips. Sometimes sounds are muffled, so adding the lip reading onto that can help them catch every word you are saying. Facing them. If you don’t know sign language – which I'm assuming a lot of people don’t – I certainly didn’t this time a year ago; literally just write on your phone. Its slower, but you're making an effort and that speaks wonders that you're taking the time to connect with them. But there's not a lot of options out there at the moment.

Josh Stothers
I’ve been to Hillsong Church a lot in the past and it was well into my visits there that I noticed they have an interpreter there even in the worship with the songs. I just found it absolutely beautiful to watch when they do the songs. Are there many churches or opportunities like that around?

Jess Laws
There is a few – they are hard to find – you can’t really Google “church with interpreter” you more have to catch it through word of mouth, that’s what worked for me. Because I wanted to go visit, I have to get up community contact hours for my study – so I was like sweet I'm going to go find out how other churches do this. So Hillsong does it every Sunday night program at the Hills campus – their biggest night program, they will always have an interpreter there which is amazing. Then for the conference every year they have one for that week as well. There are only 3 churches in Sydney that do it – there is one in like Ryde or somewhere that has an interpreter, there is one near north rocks – I think they are Anglican, I'm meaning to go this year, I actually met this guy who is not deaf but he has a voice problem so he can’t speak and relies on sign language completely, but he is leading out in this Deaf ministry in his own church which is really really cool. I'm super keen to go visit, I think they have a Deaf bible study group! Then there is New Hope church, an Adventist church in Sydney – they try to book an interpreter every Saturday, but very rarely. The interpreter will often drop out last minute just because there is such a shortage of interpreters available.

Jesse Herford
As you were talking, I was trying to rack my brain to think if I've ever noticed one in an Adventist church. I think Hillsong was the only one that came to mind – not that they are Adventist. But any church at all, which is kind of crazy, considering that deafness is the sort of condition that transcends cultures and nationalities.

Jess Laws
Yeah if you think of the effort that people go to set up different language speaking churches – we have a Portuguese church a Polish church, like everything – it feels like one of everything in Sydney! There is definitely a gap that is missing there.

Josh Stothers
I find it kind of crazy thinking through the fact that the population of Sydney is 4.5mill and growing; I think that’s more than NZ! And that school – where they said 3/1000 kids will require assistance with their hearing, so that’s like .3% of 4.5mill and there are only 3 churches in all of Sydney! That’s a huge gap – and when do we ever hear about that?

Jesse Herford
Are there any Deaf churches that you’ve ever heard of out there? Like worldwide specifically for Deaf people?

Jess Laws
This is really exciting – at our Deaf Camp 2017, we had a Deaf Adventist Pastor who runs a Deaf church in Tennessee come and speak for us!

Josh Stothers
Woah Tennessee?! Do you know much about it? I'm so interested!

Jess Laws
Well he studied Theology at one of the Adventist Universities and he is the preacher, Senior Pastor at this church. I think he did the prayer for one of those big conference meetings over there last year. And his wife is the interpreter for him – so whenever they travel anywhere, she will interpret. So, because the American sign language is different to ours, she was voicing what he was signing and then we had an Auslan interpreter signing what she was voicing. It was like a 3-way translation. And on top of that we did have one lady who was deaf and blind, so that’s a tactile sign language (Which I get to learn this year – I'm so excited!) happening as well.

Jesse Herford
Hold on, what's this tactile sign language?

Jess Laws
The person who is deafblind will hold onto the interpreter’s hand, so they are sitting up real close and personal – hope you don’t have personal space if you get into that – and they sign (I think its normally, I think there's some differences – I've seen the alphabet done differently). So, their thumb is in the middle of the interpreter's palm, so they are feeling these slight ‘twitches’ for each finger as to what is going on and they are getting all the information that way.

Josh Stothers
Wow that’s fascinating! Jesse and I both (I'm sure many other listeners would be as well) are just putting our thumbs in our palm!

Jess Laws
(Laughing) I was actually just doing that while I was trying to explain it!

Josh Stothers
Like I don't know, I can't feel much, that’s incredible.

Jess Laws
I mean you move more than just one finger for a sign; you move the location, the angle, and the shape, so there is a lot more going on, but it amazes me how you can fully communicate through touch.

Jesse Herford
Can you talk to Deaf culture a little bit? I know you’ve mentioned a few things but for the outside listener – they probably have no idea what Deaf culture actually is. You see all kinds of cultural expressions whether you are into Harry Potter or Dr Who (laughing) – I'm not making comparisons – like Adventism is a culture that SDAs understand that other people generally don’t. So, what is Deaf culture actually like?

Jess Laws
Deaf culture is the first thing that got me hooked into learning this language, because it’s so interesting! They have all these different ways of doing things – and because it is such a small community it reminded me a lot of the SDA community. Everyone knows everyone, at least in Sydney. If you meet a Deaf person, they will often introduce themselves to you using their last name, if you meet someone you are going to ask their last name to find out if you know one of their relatives or something like that. They often marry each other, which is kind of weirdly similar to Adventism (laughing), but that’s more so for the reason of communication – you can only marry someone who can speak the same language as you.

Jesse Herford
Does that mean anything for future children they might have?

Jess Laws
Sometimes it is genetic (I don’t know the statistics on that one), but I do know that 95% of deaf babies are born to hearing parents. So most deaf babies are not genetically deaf.

Jesse Herford
Are there any prevailing reasons why someone might become deaf or is that a mystery?

Jess Laws
Sometimes like brain injuries, or meningitis (is a big one), those are probably the two that I know of in terms of later in life or later into childhood.

Josh Stothers
So, Deaf Community. Tell us more!

Jess Laws
One of my favourite things is sign names! It’s almost a way of showing you have been accepted into the Deaf community – even though you can be accepted into it and not have a sign name – but it is a way of describing who you are. They will replace your name with a sign, and it’s so much quicker than spelling your name letter by letter. So, my short name is Jess, but spelling JESSICA every time someone is talking about me or to me, it gets really tedious. So, if you are going to be spelling every single person’s name ever, it’s easier to switch it out with a sign name. They are often attributed to something that is characteristic of that person. Only a Deaf person can give you a sign name (Josh Stothers and Jesse Herford: “Oooooooh”) you can’t give yourself one. If you really don’t like it, you’re allowed to say no, but if you kind of don’t like it you just have to take it, because some of them are very blunt and offensive.

Jesse Herford
Can you give us an example of one? Maybe not one that is offensive?

Jess Laws
I can give you one that is not real, for example if I had a crazy big nose my sign name would turn into J with a pointy nose – you’d do the J handshape in the shape showing how big your nose would be or something like that.

Jesse Herford
(both laughing) I can imagine how you could verge into offensive territory in that, yep that’s so funny.

Josh Stothers
Sounds like my kind of community!

Jess Laws
So, you know Fat Amy off ‘Pitch Perfect’? Literally they would give her that name. Like “Oh are you talking about Fat Amy or like Skinny Amy?” Because they are so visual, so it’s not considered offensive, that’s just explaining something visually.

Jesse Herford
Are the other sort of names that you get secret within the community or do you tell other people?

Jess Laws
So, when you give someone a name, the Deaf person will say “this is your sign name now”. Often, it’s to do with hair, if you have a distinctive haircut. Often its associated with a big long story, so it's really interesting. Every time I meet someone, I'm like “what's your sign name, where did it come from? Tell me why?” There's an interesting story behind it – like something happened on this crazy road trip and they got their name from that and it just stuck.

Josh Stothers
Which is kind of biblical really, there is a bunch of times in the bible where there is an event and then they get named after that event.

Jesse Herford
Israel or whatever.

Jess Laws
Wow I've never made that connection, that’s really cool.

Josh Stothers
That’s what they pay us for Jess! That’s really cool that naturally in their community they would understand stories like Israel or Abraham becoming Abram or Saul becoming Paul just because it’s a part of the journey and how big of a part names play in that, so that’s really cool.

Jess Laws
Stories is like a massive thing for that community. I LOVE watching a Deaf person tell a story because you get the facial expressions, the whole body movement when they are changing characters; they will crunch their shoulders in and be this tiny little kid or scrawny little person or tiny little bug, and then they will pull their shoulders back when talking about another character – it’s so amazing to watch, sometimes you can even understand what is going on in the story even if you don’t know any signs.

Jesse Herford
Wow that’s so funny. I will say of the few Deaf people that I do know, they are some of the most vivacious; the way that they express themselves is so colourful and exciting because, I don’t know, is it because they’ve had to learn to make up for one area in other areas?

Jess Laws
I think it’s just the way that the language works because it is the way they take in the world. Like reading an essay compared to watching a movie. Watching a movie, you get so much more information; there is this guy who writes comics about his life – he is a Deaf man and his wife is an interpreter, he’s called “That Deaf Guy”. There is this one comic strip where he’s like Hearing Person: “why are you late? Oh, I was in a car accident. Like oh okay.” If you ask a Deaf person why they were late “Oh man this tow truck was coming in and they just pulled out right in front of me and everything fell over...” like you’ll get sooooo much description and the story will be 10 minutes long and then they will be like “so, sorry I’m late”.

Josh Stothers
(laughing) I LOVVVVE that! That’s the way I tell stories! I get that all the time! People are like “why do you include so many details?” “Because the details of my life are interesting, people!” WOW!

Jess Laws
This is your community Josh!!

Josh Stothers
Yeah! What have I been doing? That’s incredible!

Jess Laws
It explains one of their other big things which is called “The Long Goodbye”. If you tell them to leave, they’ll be like “okay, we’re going now” and then two hours later they’ll actually be going. They’ll go around the room and say goodbye to everyone and like “oh when am I seeing you next oh my goodness, I forgot to tell you about this”, and then go and tell these big long detailed stories. There are all these jokes about people flicking off the lights to restaurants to try and kick them out and they’ll be like “yeah, yeah were coming” like GET OUT!

Jesse Herford
Wow they’re such a tight knit community that’s so cool.

Jess Laws
But at the same time as being tight knit – like Auslan students as well as Deaf community kind of all merges into one community, they have been the most accepting community I have ever run into in my entire life. I will rock up to these Deaf events because I need to practise not knowing a single person and they will welcome me with open arms and start asking me all these questions even though I’m having to ask them to repeat themselves like 3 times and start spelling words that I don’t understand that they are signing at me, and you just feel so much love and we could learn something from these guys.

Jesse Herford
Wow. So has any of that culture, so you as a youth pastor has that’s transferred over to the way that you do ministry in your local context?

Jess Laws
I haven’t done ministry last year, and I’m going back to it. So that’s another story in itself. I actually stepped back from ministry that year to pursue sign language because I had a lot of clashes. There was a lot of classes on Saturdays; it was hard because I didn’t know what God wanted me to do because I got all these signs that God was wanting me to go down this path and study sign language but the only option for me was to go to class on Saturdays, and I was like “ah I love the Sabbath – I love everything about it, having that day of rest, and connecting with my church community” and then after doing that for a while I kind of just sat back at the end of first semester and was like “I don’t really want to do this anymore” like it didn’t sit right with me – I felt spiritually distant from God for no other reason, I felt emotionally flat because I was missing out on that community time and that was the only thing I could really put it down to. I had to email my course coordinator and be like “so I’m not going to be coming to over 50% of my classes anymore because of religious reasons” and that was a battle. They almost didn’t let me do it, but after I explained myself and fought for it a little but, it has been a miracle – they have offered 1-1 teaching for me to catch up from the classes that I miss. It’s such an answer to prayer, like it was looking pretty sad half way through last year. But when God wants something to happen, He makes it happen, which is really, really cool.

Jesse Herford
Yeah, thank you for sharing that.

Jess Laws
Oh, I share that as often as people will let me because I’m like this is amazing, when life sucks, I was so upset about life but then I just felt God saying to me “Don’t give up. I gave you this passion for a reason.” And so, I didn’t, and I think it’s really encouraging to hear, I know I needed to hear things like that when I wasn’t sure what was going to go on.

Jesse Herford
What are your hopes and dreams for signing, the Deaf community, as far as the church and ministry goes? With your experience and background not only in counselling but ministry; your involvement in the community, what sort of things make you go “man if only we could do this or that” things would be so amazing for the church and the DC. What’s in your heart as far as that’s concerned?

Jess Laws
I would personally love to be at the point where I could seamlessly interpret a sermon, that is the goal and that is something I actually am working towards. My dream-dream would be to have everyone in my church know sign language so it would just be a complete open-door community to that world. I feel like I just want to go up the front of my church and go “guys I'm going to bring my Deaf friends here so you better start learning now”. And I hope that some of them will, but I know that they will all at least make an effort in some way or another – whether its learning the language completely or just writing down notes on your phone. But I would love to have a consistent group of Deaf people who are involved in church, not just attending, but leading out in things – like this seamless community where back and forth can happen equally. I would love that. Like everywhere – not just in my local church, but everywhere – there are so many opportunities for it to happen in every church over the whole world.

Josh Stothers
That’s a really cool vision, I love that, I could get behind that.

Jess Laws
I mean it’s a big one, but dream big right?

Josh Stothers
You’ve inspired me, I actually wanna look up sign courses now.

Jess Laws
Yay!

Jesse Herford
Do you think there is much of a stigma that churches or people have about connecting to the Deaf community?

Jess Laws
From speaking to Deaf and HoH people, they seem to have the attitude that hearing people don’t care enough to try. Which is really sad to hear, like yeah, it does take a lot of effort to connect with a Deaf person if you don’t know sign language, but it means making yourself a little uncomfortable for a little while for the purpose of making someone else feel comfortable.

Jesse Herford
It sounds a little bit like the old stigma with a lot of things, just ignorance in a way.

Jess Laws
Yeah, I don’t think its intentional ignorance, it's just a lack of education about what this community is all about and what they need. We were joking before we started recording, a Deaf person will go to a restaurant and the waiter will bring them a menu in braille. And they're like no, I can’t read braille, I'm not blind. It's just a lack of awareness, so that’s what I try to do, if anyone lets me get on my high horse like you guys are letting me do right now, I'll just tell everyone about sign language because I want people to learn about this community and how we can connect with them because it makes me really, really excited.

Josh Stothers
Yeah, I can tell! The passion is oozing through Skype.

Jess Laws
I don’t normally talk this much!

Jesse Herford
What do you think people in their local context can do? Most people don’t really have the time, it's not going to fit into their life to quit everything and do a 3-year full time course in sign language. Maybe, I don’t want to put anyone down who's feeling like I want to do that. Can you get away with connecting with the Deaf community with just a bit of sign language knowledge?

Jess Laws
There is online intro courses, it's really basic, but you might get by, you can say I want that kind of thing. Just simple things, it's enough to show that you're really making the effort to connect. Even if you know zero sign language – there are still things you can do in a church context as well as outside of church. I asked one of my friends; (she is HoH and goes to an SDA church) “What can we do better?” I realise that we aren’t doing a lot. She’s saying, “bring your phone, write on a piece of paper, if you are able to get an interpreter advertise it a lot”, no one is going to come assuming that you have an interpreter – like what comes first? You’ve got to have that consistency if you are going to go down that path. But they are expensive and hard to get. There are also T-loops, have you guys heard of them? I know some churches have them.

Josh Stothers
Nope no idea, what is it?

Jess Laws
It's an electronic thing for hearing aids – it connects the speakers microphone up to a hearing aid loop like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth kind of idea – and there are newer versions of that coming out that work so much better. It’s a matter of getting that technology on your hands and then that opens the door to at least the HoH community. One thing that she told me I had never thought of before was to use PowerPoints in your sermon. So, pictures, put up the bible text and key points; if people are missing a lot of what you are saying they are still getting the main gist of it and they understand the context at least of what you are talking about which helps SO much. If you know context, it helps you assume other bits and pieces if you are missing gaps here and there. Also, to offer your sermon notes – if you are preaching and if you have them.

Josh Stothers
Ah yes. I should make better notes that other people can actually read. Would probably be a good start!

Jesse Herford
Honestly sometimes when Josh preaches, he has his notes and then he walks around and doesn’t look at them the whole time!

Josh Stothers
Ah its most of the time.

Jess Laws
Living life of the edge – that’s so stressful.

Josh Stothers
I mean I know we have a few pastors that listen (to this podcast), but I get a bit muddled up if I look at them – I get too confused, so it's better if I know them and then come back and look at them every now and then.

Jesse Herford
I get muddled up whether I look at them or not!

Thank you for that, practical stuff and as much as we would love to see, that would be so cool if our entire church decided hey, we are going to be a church for Deaf people. What an incredible vision. I hope that a church somewhere out there actually takes on that challenge. If you do that, you are essentially tapping into an entire target market that nobody else is tapping into. We get like ah how can we reach our teenagers, how can we reach millennials, mums, and working-class people. If you are reaching Deaf people, you may be the only church in your entire city (or one of) who are reading them. What an incredible opportunity. Are there any other things about the Deaf community or statistics or anecdotes that you’d wished that we asked you about?

Jess Laws
I can share you my all-time favourite TED Talk which I recommend to everyone because its super entertaining – by Andy Dexterity.

Josh Stothers
Is that a real name?

Jess Laws
I think it’s a show name, he does a lot of performances in Auslan. He is so interesting and so animated with his face. He does this big talk about sign language and how it is interesting and how the language works and it's really hard to explain over a podcast because it helps so much when you can see what he is signing and explaining at the same time. SO PLEASE look it up. And then after that TED Talk, he actually does a performance of Bohemian Rhapsody in Auslan.

Josh Stothers
WOAHHHHH SO cool!

Jesse Herford
That sounds amazing!

Josh Stothers
We will make sure we leave a link to that in the show notes.

Jess Laws
The other interesting thing is if anyone in a church context is uploading videos you can actually put closed captions on. They are all over Facebook right now because we are the generation that will scroll Facebook with the sound off. Which is great for the Deaf community! Because all of the sudden they can watch all these videos.

Jesse Herford
Super cool.

Josh Stothers
I've never connected the dots between closed captions on Facebook and YouTube.

Jess Laws
If you can turn them on – the auto ones on YouTube are terrible – if you’ve ever tried it's kind of entertaining if you do know what the word is supposed to be, but it can be really frustrating if someone's trying to watch a video and every second word is incorrect. So, I think if you are posting videos you can type in your own captions.

Jesse Herford
Yeah there are people who will contribute to YouTube videos – whether on their own or I know some creators pay people to create captions. Very cool.

Josh Stothers
So that’s something you can do even if you are just a regular person, you can go onto someone else’s video...

Jess Laws
Ahah “regular person”!

Josh Stothers
No, I mean not a content creator. So, if there is a really good YouTube video you like and there are not closed captions for it you can just go and write them. Very community minded. So, if your church uploads videos, you could be the answer to how they can connect to the Deaf community – just sit there, watch it and type it up. Take you – not that long!

Jesse Herford
Any last thoughts Jess?

Jess Laws
I just want to give a shout out to the church in Brisbane – they are doing SUCH a good job, they have interpreters there most weeks. They upload videos with the interpreters for each sermon. They are doing an amazing job, they are making an effort to connect, and they have a little group that comes all the time. They are leading by example.

Jesse Herford
And we wanna see more and more of those all over the country.

Jess Laws
Yeah! Look up that TED talk – its super interesting. If that doesn’t get you hooked, I don’t know what will!

Physical Communication is Universal | Andy Dexterity | TEDxSydney