Introduction / History
This profile primarily focuses on deaf Grenadians that use sign language as their primary form of communication and identify themselves as a deaf community and not Grenadians who may have hearing loss but primarily identify with hearing people.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Deaf Grenadians primarily live near deaf schools and larger cities. There are only two special education centers for deaf people: a school for deaf students with multiple disabilities and another school for various types of disabled students, including deaf students in a special classroom. Most deaf people, however, are mainstreamed into hearing schools without interpreters. Only a very few do well enough educationally to pass the entrance exams for secondary school and most of these do not finish because there are no interpreters and little support. In reality, deaf people have limited access to social services in general.
The Grenadian deaf community uses American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary language. Others who live in more isolated areas, especially in the northern part of Grenada, may develop a system of home signs to communicate with their families but have not had the opportunity to learn ASL. Because of communication barriers and lack of shared experience with hearing people, deaf people tend to socialize within the deaf community. Until recently, though, there has been no consistent infrastructure of deaf associations or clubs that have brought deaf people together.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Following national trends, deaf people are mostly culturally Christian. However, there are no deaf churches or ministries and deaf people report that they do not comprehend well either the written English Bible or church services they attend with their families. Some deaf people express a strong desire to know more about the Bible and to attend a church service that they understand. The New Testament is available in ASL, but deaf Grenadians have not had access to it. In addition, currently available ASL Scripture are primarily presented by Caucasian signers that do not represent the ethnic make-up of Grenada (principally Afro-Carribean).
What Are Their Needs?
It is difficult for most deaf people to understand written English, so access to the Bible and educational materials is limited. They may be able to use ASL materials, but community testing for acceptability and understanding has not been done.
There are no deaf ministries or churches available in Grenada. Some deaf people report that they go with their hearing families to church but do not understand the services. However, because of the Christian culture, many deaf people are very open to the gospel.
There is some bilingualism between ASL and English, however, most deaf people do not read English or communicate orally at a high level.
There is a significant need for missionaries in the Grendian deaf community through education, interpreter training, and pastoral/deaf-leadership training.
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