Gallaudet University

At Gallaudet University, deaf culture and faith mix to create something new

A woman walks through the Gallaudet University campus in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Gallaudet University is an institution of learning, teaching and research for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON (RNS) — When a student stood to read from the Bible during a Catholic service at Gallaudet University earlier this year, she conveyed the sacred words in a language the group would understand: American Sign Language. The psalm — often chanted or sung — was signed as well.

And when the priest addressed the worshippers, he signed: “The Lord be with you.”  A flurry of hands signed back: “And with your spirit.”

For many, vocalized hymns, homilies, and prayers make up much of the experience of a typical religious service. Yet worshipping silently — in ASL — is standard fare at Gallaudet, the world’s premier college for the deaf and hard of hearing. And religious students say the language shift is but a small window into the subtle ways their communities intertwine deaf culture with the divine to produce uncommon expressions of faith and activism. Read more HERE.