Who are the most overlooked people with disabilities in the church today? According to one Pastor to the Deaf, it’s the hard of hearing.
As faithful churchgoers age, many experience hearing loss that disconnects them from their community. And as one hard-of-hearing Christian told us, many will simply leave before they rock the boat to ask for help.
If you’ve found this article, you’re probably seeking practical ways to make your church an inclusive home for people with hearing loss. You know the stakes are high and how hard it can be to meet them.
The Challenge We Face
Every church is different, but one common obstacle to Gospel accessibility is fear: fear of not having enough money and fear of investing in a solution that doesn’t fit your church’s needs. You may have already considered some approaches like:
- Sign Language interpreters – while ideal for the Deaf, Sign Language may not be helpful for churchgoers who lose hearing later in life and never learned ASL.
- Professionally trained captioners – a great option, but many smaller churches struggle to find and afford trained stenographers.
- Assistive listening/audio amplification/hearing loop equipment – hardware is often unreliable, can break, and is a prime target for thieves as even a halfway decent system is quite expensive.
What if there was a new way that provided both captions and assistive listening at an affordable price?
A New Way to Serve the Hard of Hearing
Imagine stepping into a church you’ve never visited before.
As you’re greeted, an usher helps you go to a link on your phone.
When you visit the page, a stream of captions appears.
Glancing up at the stage, you see the same captions on the screen. And because you’ve linked your hearing aid to your phone via Bluetooth, you press a button and find your ears filled with the sonorous voice of the pastor. You set the volume to your liking and settle in to hear the Word.
We’d like this to be your church.
That’s why we built Spf.io, a system that runs on the web and equips churches of any size or means to easily include people with hearing loss.
Its flexible tools include:
- Live church closed captioning – Spf.io generates captions with advanced speech-to-text software. These can be checked and edited for increased accuracy by a trained staff member or volunteer before being sent to churchgoers’ devices. No professional stenographer training is needed.
- Assistive listening via audio livestreaming – Spf.io can stream and amplify sound for hard-of-hearing congregants without the need to purchase expensive headsets. Instead, it sends audio straight to the individual’s device, which can connect to Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids.
- Off-site accessibility – Because Spf.io is a web-based system, it can make captions and audio available anywhere in the world, with an easy link on your church website.
It’s challenging to ensure everyone in your church is connected, discipled and thriving in Christ. With Spf.io, your church won’t have to leave anyone behind.