Monday, March 30, 2020

Psalm 23 for Covid 19 -- Nancy Webb


If you are a person with one or more disabilities or are an advocate for anyone with a disability, you may be experiencing anger, terror, anxiety, or fear.  Alternately, or at the same time, you may be experiencing gratitude that you have the help you need and or are able to care for your own needs.


If you or someone you know or are related to has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus or has even died because of it; your grief and pain may seem unbearable.


The words of Psalm 23, "I will fear no evil for Thou art with me" speak to each of us, no matter what our circumstances may be.

Though it may be difficult to experience, the fact that we can trust that God IS with us, no matter what can give us hope, no matter how VERY uncertain our future and the future of those we love throughout the world may be.

Our UMAMD community is important as we stick with each other in love and prayer. We also include others with disabilities, both members of a church or any of God's children everywhere. 

Nancy Webb, a light-skinned woman, using a microphone, speaks to AMD meeting


-- The Rev. Nancy J. Webb, retired full elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference

Friday, March 27, 2020

News and notes from AMD, 27 March 2020


Here are the highlights of postings this week from the Association of Ministers with Disabilities, Disability Ministries Committee, Mental Health Ministries, Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Ministries Committee, and UM Congress of the Deaf.

A note: we intend to provide helpful information from reliable sources about what people who comprise the church can do to keep themselves safe and show their Christian love for others. We ask that you take the charge to love your neighbor seriously, without engaging in panic.

The AMD will continue to share pastoral care aids, prayers and liturgy from our members, tuned to the needs of our times. 
 
The Disability Ministries Committee has compiled a list of resources for inclusion during the outbreak.

Please check the UM Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Ministries for a list of ASL or captioned streams. Also, if you are streaming services, keep Deaf/HOH in mind. We have a recent blog entry that offers guidance: Online and Virtual Gatherings: Inclusion for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Members.

You may also find it helpful to follow the hashtag #‎HighRiskCovid19‬
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AMD
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DHM/UMCD
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DMC
-
MHM
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Click here for a list of events of interest to people in disability ministry.
UMAMD logo with the UM Cross and Flame and several
          disability symbols
This newsletter is generally issued weekly by the
United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities,
a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

Click here to join this e-mail list.
This newsletter is also published on the UM Disability Blog
Visit us on the web or Facebook.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A letter from AMD co-chairs


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

            For many of you who are leading congregations and other groups within the church, this has been a stressful and anxious period. I pray that you are all finding time for self-care. While we are all called to care for the people around us, we surely cannot care for others unless we are caring for ourselves. This is especially true for those of us who live with disabilities that require us to be even more aware of our health during this turbulent time.

            The COVID-19 pandemic has changed daily life for people around the world, affecting where we can go, what we can do, and whom we can be around. As a society, it is indeed important for us to embrace social distancing as a way to protect and show love to our neighbors and ensure that this virus does not continue to spread beyond our ability to control it.

            In this time of uncertainty and social imbalance, I cannot help but think of how people with disabilities are all too familiar with social isolation, physical limitations and day-to-day uncertainty. Many people with disabilities live not knowing where we can go and what social amenities are available to us, and all too often, staying home is our only option. This new way of life, which the rest of society is struggling to come to terms with, has been a daily reality for many people with disabilities for most of our lives. 

            With that being said, I write to you — ministers with disabilities — to say that this challenging situation presents an opportunity to model, out of our experiences, the love and compassion Jesus calls all of his disciples to share. As we move forward, I encourage all of you who are ministers or leaders with disabilities to identify ways you can share your knowledge and experience with our congregations and denominations about the importance of caring for those around us. 

People with disabilities know the importance of having people around us who offer love and care during challenging times. This can be more difficult in a time of social distancing. However, we know the importance of checking on those we love and who are vulnerable, we know the importance of people who understand our fears and anxieties, and we know the importance of human connection (even virtually).

            If you have sermons, devotions, or blogs you are creating during this time, please share those with Tim Vermande at umamwd@gmail.com so we can share them on the AMD Facebook page. Showcasing the work of people with disabilities is important during this time so that our voices and thoughts are heard. We have experiences and perspectives that are necessary during this time, and I encourage you to share them.

            Lastly, if you are feeling anxious and isolated, please feel free to message or email us at umamwd@gmail.com. We are happy to spend time talking and praying with anyone who needs it.


Grace and Peace

Rev. Hank Jenkins
Rev. Jonathan Campbell
Co-chairs, AMD

Friday, March 20, 2020

News and notes from AMD, 20 March 2020


Here are the highlights of postings this week from the Association of Ministers with Disabilities, Disability Ministries Committee, Mental Health Ministries, Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Ministries Committee, and UM Congress of the Deaf.

A note: we intend to provide helpful information from reliable sources about what people who comprise the church can do to keep themselves safe and show their Christian love for others. We ask that you take the charge to love your neighbor seriously, without engaging in panic.

The AMD will continue to share pastoral care aids, prayers and liturgy from our members, tuned to the needs of our times.

Please check the UM Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Ministries for a list of ASL or captioned streams. Also, if you are streaming services, keep Deaf/HOH in mind. We have a recent blog entry that offers guidance: Online and Virtual Gatherings: Inclusion for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Members.

You may also find it helpful to follow the hashtag #‎HighRiskCovid19‬
-
AMD
-
DHM/UMCD
-
DMC
-
MHM
-
Click here for a list of events of interest to people in disability ministry.
UMAMD logo with the UM Cross and Flame and several
          disability symbols
This newsletter is generally issued weekly by the
United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities,
a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

Click here to join this e-mail list.
This newsletter is also published on the UM Disability Blog
Visit us on the web or Facebook.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Online and Virtual Gatherings: Inclusion for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Members


Online and Virtual Gatherings: Inclusion for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Members

By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.

With most churches across mainline denominations closing in-person gatherings and worship services, pastoral leaders and staff are being more creative as they toss aside the “Things They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary” book. Many churches are offering live streamed worship services, prerecorded videos, and conference calls to continue their community in a virtual way. 

Just about all churches have persons with hearing loss, a condition that is particularly true of seniors. In-person gatherings typically use public address systems as assistive technology, but online or live streamed worship services present challenges to ensure that persons with hearing loss can hear through computers, iPads, and laptops. We will look at several options to ensure that everyone can participate.

Sign Language Interpreters

Several United Methodist churches use sign language interpreters in their streamed services. Captioning is also a possibility, although fewer churches use this capability.


Rev. Stephanie Vader (preaching) and interpreter at Emmanuel UMC in Laurel, MD.
Click here to view this sample
http://www.eumclaurel.org/stream/

Some use an overlay or insert – a picture of the interpreter inside the primary video (below) – while others place the interpreter next to the preacher or other speaker (above). When using the insert method, note that the image can easily become too small for comfortable viewing, so for best accessibility, choose a size carefully. 


Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli and interpreter at Foundry UMC in Washington, DC.
Click here to view this sample.
http://foundryumc.org/archive/how-can-you-believe-this

Captioning

Captioning is strongly desired by most Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons who rely on this form of accessibility. No captioning platform displays perfect captions; however, there are some that are better than others.

If using an app such as Zoom, the host of the call can download the video to make it available later. Captions can then be added, using plans such as Caption Sync or Otter.ai. Zoom also offers the captioning feature during video calls (click here for instructions). 

Google Hangouts is a free option for small virtual gatherings, such as Bible studies, that includes a captions feature. Using Google Hangouts as an example, this approach better enables persons with some hearing loss, like some seniors, to still participate in gatherings.


Caption feature in Google Hangouts with a presentation

While Facetime is an option for Facebook users to view live stream worship services, not everyone is a Facebook user. Plus, at the time of this writing, it does not offer a captioning feature.

YouTube offers automatic captioning, but the results are often incorrect (if not sometimes humorously so). However, the caption track can be exported and edited. For directions on how to do this, or more information about captioning in general, visit the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Committee’s Assistive Technology page here

Conference Calls

Conference calls for prayer meetings and the like are still a popular way to gather. A Deaf or hard-of-hearing caller whose primary language is ASL can connect through the video relay service (VRS), in which the caller participates (through signing and speech) through a (free) sign language interpreter who connects the caller to the conference call. 

FreeConferenceCall.com is still highly popular, though other platforms, like Zoom, generally offer a call-in option for audio users. For hard-of-hearing and late-deafened persons who rely on captioning, a Captel phone is a device that allows the user to speak through a handset, while reading the captions on their phone.

captel phone: a phone with handset and screen
Captel phone displaying captions.


Visuals and Materials

Visual presentations are typically helpful for participants to follow along and this is just as important for Deaf and hard of hearing participants. Hymns, lyrics, Scriptures, and the like are the needed visual presentations to include. Making visual presentations and materials available for download by participants is especially helpful. One option is Google Suite (e.g. docs and presentations), which offers published links to share. Be mindful Deafblind persons with low vision or others with vision impairment may desire a large print option for download. With proper alt-texts, these methods offer wide-ranging accessibility.

Conclusion

In a time where churches need to be more creative in engaging our faith communities through virtual gatherings and events, inclusion of Deaf and hard of hearing persons still needs to be a consideration. Be sure to promote your accessible virtual events or at least add it in the event’s description. 

The Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries Committee through Global Ministries has a link of accessible live streamed worship services. The list of worship services can be accessed here. This page also lists addiction recovery resources available in ASL, such as AA online meetings with sign language interpreters. The committee also offers a section on accessible technology here. 

Addendum

There is much advice flying around about how to handle remote meetings and other business since this blog was published. We are adding a few which address hearing needs and practical experience.