Alumni news: making churchgoing more appealing to the deaf community
The Revd Cathy Nightingale, a hearing-impaired theology graduate from the University of Birmingham, is using her personal experience to help those in a similar situation.
The Revd Nightingale attended various churches, but was aggravated by the inaccessibility of the services that she went to. In every service, she had to rely on lip reading during the majority of the sermon, which was difficult to follow, and was often confused about what was going on.
Realising that there was real potential to improve this, she has become a chaplain for the deaf in the Diocese of Manchester, using her experiences to enhance church services in the diocese for the deaf community.
It was Cathy’s first job that transformed this passion into action:
“My first job was working with deaf students in the further education sector and it was then that I could no longer ignore God calling me into ministry to carry the good news to deaf people, especially to young people in the deaf community.”
Her studies at the University of Birmingham gave her the necessary skills to make an active change in the accessibility of church services. Her aim is to have a service in each town within the Diocese of Manchester providing services which include British Sign Language (BSL). She hopes that this move will encourage those from the local deaf community to feel welcome in a church environment and to send a message that disability shouldn’t disqualify someone from faith.
Rev Nightingale has certainly shown that hearing is not necessarily believing, and displays a ‘come as you are’ attitude to the Church of England.
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