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Outreach
Chris Schaffner

Chris is a CADC certified counselor working with chemically dependent persons and those with co-occurring disorders. Chris has worked in the field for 7 years and has worked with children and teens for over 15 years. Chris is also the coordinator for The Shelter, a ministry of Group Publishing that provides support to children’s and youth workers from around the world. He has worked with individuals of all ages who struggle with addiction, abuse histories, self injury, depression and suicide. Chris has provided training locally on suicide assessment and on working with the LGBTQ population. Chris provides training at SYMC, KidMin, UYWI, Operation Snowball events, Chicago HOPES and Access Living, CCDA Annual Conference, OtraOnda Dimension Juvenil Conference, has taught parenting and Anger Management classes, and teaches a community-based series called ‘Coping With…” that equips adolescent with life management skills. Chris lives in Central Illinois and is married to Trudy. They have 4 kids; Blake, Charley Grace, and the twins Claire and Chloe.

If a student who is deaf is using an interpreter, group members will need to take turns during discussions.  If several people are talking at the same time, which is not uncommon in youth group meetings, the interpreter will be unable to communicate all the information.

Requiring people to raise their hands before speaking is a good method to ensure that only one person is speaking at a time, as decided beforehand the order in which students will speak. In a group setting the student who is deaf will normally be a few seconds or minutes behind the hearing group members; it will usually take longer to interpret a sentence that it took for the person to speak it.  An interpreter must understand the context before interpreting and it may happen that a message will require more signs than words.

The youth leader should make a point of asking students who are dear for their responses and questions to ensure they are included in the discussion. If a group lasts more than an hour, two interpreters may be necessary, because interpreting can be very fatiguing.

Not all individuals who are deaf are fluent in sign language, and some, such as a student who is deaf and blind, may have some very particular communication needs.You can learn about these accommodations simply by talking to the student or their family.

Other considerations:

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  • Lighting is important when there is a person who is deaf in a ministry program.  Lighting needs to be sufficient for the person who is deaf to see the interpreter, especially during a movie or video clip when the lights need to be dimmed.
  • Blinds or curtains might need to be closed to minimize glare and enable the person who is deaf to see their interpreter.
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