When The Shoe Is On The Other Foot
Written by: Robert Loran Ford
May 17th, 2023
There are folks that live among us that we know little or nothing about. They live below our radar. It came to my attention that such a situation existed within my parish community. Their struggle to live among us was not readily seen by the naked eye. It was hidden beneath the surface of their existence. A casual glance would raise no flags, nor any need to have great concern. Who are they, but the hearing impaired. No sound enters into the cavity of their brain. All of life is silence. Hearing comes through the movement of hands and fingers. Like the music emerging from the cords of a piano, their voices ring out to all who understand its unique presentation. A barrier is formed! Who will step forward to challenge its right to exist. In reality, very few!
Desiring to be counted among the few, I devised a plan that would at least bring awareness to those who might join us if there were a pathway before them. My plan contained such a pathway. Here’s how it would work. The way to bring the barrier down was to learn their language. That would take training and someone to provide such instruction. My answer came from Gardner-Webb University, which provided an instructor to come to my parish and teach those who desired to be a part of the solution. Surprise! Surprise! Thirty-five parishioners stepped forward to do their part. Coming each week, giving up Saturday mornings from 8 to 12, to learn a language as foreign to them as French or Italian. Five months rolled by and soon graduation, but what now?
Well, the story could end here, but not for me, I had other plans. This was just Phase I, now comes Phase II. The time for our annual Christian Life Series was upon us and what better way to do this than to have a hearing-impaired ministerial student fill the bill. The ministerial student would deliver the messages via Sign Language and the congregation would need someone to interpret for them. Again, Gardner-Webb University supplied a person who was well equipped to do this. The shoe was on the other foot.
What is it like to see and experience the world from another person’s point of view? Veterans have their own unique language and experience of life that is not readily understood by many people. While it’s not easy, it can be done, and Foothills Veterans Helping Veterans does it so well. When you think no one understands you or cares about knowing your world, you’re in luck. We have veterans and other members that understand your world and life experience. They can speak and understand your language. You need to give us try! Come and see!