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While we were in Utah, we attended church in a deaf ward.
It was so neat to watch my brother-in-law bless his child using sign language, to sing hymns as the congregation signed, and to watch the Sacrament being blessed with signs. People prayed with their eyes open to see what was being said. :) And everyone helped each other.
I especially enjoyed watching a little Primary child pray using sign language. I could feel the spirit as I watched the music leader lead the children in songs all sung with sign language and to watch my sister-in-law tell a story to the primary children about a time that she felt the spirit as a little girl.
I immediately noticed Autumn trying to imitate the signs. She told me she didn't want to go back to our primary because it was too boring. Why? Because we don't use signs!
Lots of the hearing cousins picked up signs just from attending primary, even my older nieces came home from Young Women's having learned signs like "covenant" and "ordinance" and proudly showed them to us.
I loved how welcoming the ward was and how they tried hard to make sure we understood what was being said. It made me wonder if we are doing enough in our hearing wards to make sure that children (and others) who are deaf or have other disabilities are able to participate in church lessons.
Sign language is not just for kids with hearing impairment. Signs can be used by hearing children to simply engage them more in the lesson and allow them to be "active" while learning.
While we were visiting, the children were learning a song about baptism. We learned the sign for baptism and whenever we did that sign, we were asked to stand. This made the lesson very fun and interactive...and I will probably never forget the sign for baptism!
I would encourage anyone who is serving in the Primary to look into learning basic signs to help all children learn and to help children with disabilities participate more actively and to feel included in their Primary family.
Here are a list of basic signs that might be helpful if used in a Primary setting:
baptism, pray, Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, please, thank you, help, blessings, family, always, scriptures, prophet, commandment, Amen.
You might think about matching just one sign with each month's theme and teaching it to your Primary children. And if you have a child with disabilities of any kind, you might approach the parents of that child and discuss signing or other special ways that their child might communicate with you and others in Primary.
See all of the online resources in sign language.
And to learn more ASL terms.