In our years on the field, we have met many deaf who have NO language of any kind. I do not mean a person with little education, but a deaf person that has no language. What do you do with this sort of person? How do you teach them so they can understand, be saved, and later learn signs and follow Christ? We have found that the hardest signs to teach are the signs with the easiest and most basic meaning. These signs we use every day and never think that maybe other people may not know what they mean. But the more important question is, “How do you teach these ideas?”
1. Use pictures. We begin teaching the deaf with pictures. We make “picture cards” with a picture of the object or action we want to teach. For example, you teach “boy.” Find a picture with a boy only (see example). There should be nothing else in the picture. No background, no other people, and no objects. You need a picture of a boy standing with nothing in his hands and doing nothing. He should be just standing. (With other objects or people in the picture, it becomes confusing as to what is “boy?”) Many nouns and verbs can be taught this way.
2. Actions. Some signs must be taught with actions or skits. The one people ask me about the most is how to teach the sign “lie.” I teach the word “lie” with a skit. The skit is like this.
a. Take a watch or other object and lay it down on a bench, chair, or table while you are teaching the deaf.
b. Walk away from the watch. Teach at other side of room.
c. Ask a helper to sneak up to the front and take the watch while the deaf see him.
d. Go back to where the watch was and act as if you are searching for it.
e. Act, “Where where where my watch?”
f. The deaf will point to the thief.
g. Ask the worker to come to the front facing you, with the watch hidden behind his back.
h. Gesture, “You my watch?”
i. Worker, “No, me not.” Make sure the deaf can plainly see the watch behind his back.
j. Reach around and show the watch and sign “lie.”
k. “Steal” can be taught through this skit, also.
Next time more about teaching easy words.