Eastside has a Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministry
Meet Nancy Watson. Nancy has been interpreting at Eastside for more than 30 years. You may have noticed her beautifully signing during the messages at the 9am Sunday service in the third row to the right side of the auditorium. But what you probably didn’t know is that she also teaches a beginning class in American Sign Language at Eastside on Wednesday nights from 6-8pm with her husband and technical support, Joe. The class is offered to anyone interested and is completely free of charge. There are normally around 20+ people attending. She teaches in the fall, winter, and spring, taking a break for summer. Click here to get more information about our ASL class or go to eastside.com/asl.
When you talk to Nancy, the value she places on ministering to the deaf is palpable. There were no deaf in her life when she started learning to sign from her then mentor, Stacey Whiseheart, but in her many years in the language, her relationships with the deaf have flourished.
In the nearly three decades she’s worked with the deaf, both at church and as a professional interpreter in the Placentia Yorba Linda School District, Nancy has gained deep insight. “The biggest struggle for the deaf community is lack of socialization with the hearing and as a result isolation.” Nancy believes that if more people knew Eastside offered an interpreted service, more deaf would attend and ultimately form a community group within our church.
After serving in this vocation for more than a decade, her passion took on a very personal reason. From Nancy’s many years of training, she was the first to notice the signs in her granddaughter as their family realized this child was deaf. How comforted this family was in having a grandmother who was ready and able to teach ASL right from the very beginning. It’s impossible not to see God’s providence in Nancy’s family, community, and thankfully right here at Eastside.
Next time you see Nancy, tell her hello and share some words of encouragement for her, thanking her for the ministry she performs faithfully, quietly, and with a generous heart. Perhaps she’ll be willing to teach you a sign or two to greet our deaf friends next time you see them. Recently she has inspired another volunteer to step up so Katie has now joined the team to help interpret the worship songs – you can catch a glimpse of Katie’s signing on Eastside’s Instagram! You can also hear Katie’s story at eastside.com/reckless-love-and-asl
Interested in learning ASL? Go to eastside.com/asl to find out more about our free classes that meet on Wednesday nights.
“BLINDNESS SEPARATES PEOPLE FROM THINGS;
DEAFNESS SEPARATES PEOPLE FROM PEOPLE.” – HELEN KELLER
American Sign Language is a complete natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken languages with grammar that differs from English. It includes your hand gestures but also facial expressions. Each sign is composed of five components. Any change in them will change the entire meaning of the sign. It is considered a foreign language since it has its own vocabulary, word style and originated in France. Today different countries have different sign languages and there are about 6,000 different sign languages around the world. There are many differences but one example is in the American Sign Language (ASL), each letter in the alphabet can be demonstrated using one hand. However, in German and British Sign Languages, two hands are used. ASL is the third most popular language in the United States. Here are some video resources you can check out to learn more at “Learn Sign Language” and Learn 38 ASL signs in 2 Minutes