Hearing Loss

Our Church Opens Minds through awareness about the variety of disabilities that affect people every day.  There is no us and them when it comes to disabilities.   All people are differently-abled and all people will experience some disability, at least once in life. A parish Opens Minds whenever it takes concrete steps to exercise God's compassion for people who are differently-abled physically, mentally or emotionally.  

Hearing loss is any degree of impairment of the ability to apprehend sound.  Deafness includes a complete inability to hear. Approximately 17 percent  or 36 million  of American adults report some degree of hearing loss.  About 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard-of-hearing. Nine out of every 10 children who are born deaf are born to parents who can hear.  Please consider the tools and resources provided here for those with hearing loss and refer to links for other specific disabilities on the left sidebar.

Communicating with People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing currently there are 26 million deaf and hard of hearing individuals in America. There are many types and causes of hearing loss. The age at the time of hearing loss and the type of hearing loss are often contributors of what type of communication method a deaf or hard of hearing person uses. Many people who were born deaf or became deaf "prelingually," communicate with sign language and consider themselves to be member of a cultural linguisitic community. Because of their language and cultural identity, most prefer to be called "deaf." Others may have lost hearing gradually over time, due to nerve damage or aging. Many of these "hard of hearing" individuals usually prefer to communicate in spoken English. They use some hearing, but may rely on amplification devices and/or seeing the speaker's lips to communicate effectively. Over the years, different terms have been used to refer to deaf people. Some older terms are offensive today and should be avoided, especially "deaf & dumb" or "deaf mute." The term "hearing impaired" is generally not preferred, as it implies that the person is "broken" or "impaired."

There is a range of communication styles and preferences among people with hearing loss. When communicating with someone that has a hearing loss, it is best to first establish which type of method they prefer. Some of these methods include sign language, speech reading, interpreters, and writing back and forth. There are a few different "styles" of sign language. First, is American Sign Language or "ASL." ASL is an entirely different language from English with a syntax all its own. ASL is capable of conveying subtle, complex and abstract ideas. Second, is "signed English," which is pretty much what it sounds like. Words and sentences are signed using exact English structure. There is also "Pidgin" signed English or "contact" signing, which is basically a combination of ASL and signed English. Some deaf people prefer ASL, while others use contact signing or signed English. It is a matter of preference.

Another means of communication is "speech reading," or the "oral" method. It should be noted that complete accuracy of speech reading used as the sole method of communication, is approximately 40%. This is because many words look very similar on the lips. Writing back and forth may be very helpful in such environments as restaurants, hotels, and during one on one conversations. However, if there is much detailed information to be conveyed, such as at a doctor's appointment or legal firm, an interpreter should be sought if the person's preferred method of communication is sign language. The internet is a wonderful source for more information on deaf communication. A couple of good sign language resources are: and

Best Sign Language Resources for Beginners

National and International Associations

Assistive Hearing Devices (or ALD - assistive learning device) - is a device that picks up sound - voice, music, etc., at or close to its source, amplifies the sound, and delivers it to the user’s ear.  An ALD has advantages over conventional amplifications systems.  Because the signal to be listened to is the only sound picked up by the system and transmitted directly into the user’s ear, the person’s perception of that sound is significantly improved because the user is not distracted by outside sound and can usually control the volume.  ALDs can improve interpersonal communication in meetings and other forms of public assembly.The various types of Assistive Listening Devices are: Audio Loop systems, infrared systems and FM systems.  The various types of amplification devices are: Telephone adapter, handset adapter, portable amplifiers and permanent amplifiers.

Family Health Reference to ASL offers information about the linguistics of sign, learning the alphabet and numbers, forming sentences, popular phrases, and interpreting for the deaf.

International Catholic Deaf Association (must have JAVA on computer to access) or - The International Catholic Deaf Association is a movement of communion among people from various countries brought together by the Holy Spirit out of a common conviction that Deaf persons are called to the fullness of life in Christ’s body which is the Church.

National Catholic Office for the Deaf - spreads God’s message through the support of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Pastoral Ministry so that we may all be one in Christ.  Offers a quarterly newsletter and resources.  Call TTY (301) 587-7992

ASL Pro - is a completely free online American Sign Language educational resource website featuring over 11000 ASL Signs.

New York Relay Service - A hearing or speech impaired person with a TTY calls the New York Relay Service by dialing 1-800-662-1220 and asks the Communication Asssitant to connect them with the person with whom they wish to communicate. A NY Relay Service Communication Assistant receives and responds to the typed TDD message, phones the other person with whom the caller wishes to communicate, and relays the conversation back and forth. A person with a regular phone answers and picks up the line of communication with the calling party through the Communication Assistant at the NY Relay Service. The System also works in reverse when a caller with a regular telephone wishes to communicate with a hearing or speech-impaired person across New York State or across the Country. Dial 1-800-421-1220 (voice). People who experience a haring loss may communicate with spoken language or through sign language. People in the Deaf Community use the American Sign Language as their form of Communication.

Western New York Health - an article on addressing hearing loss with seniors.

Waiting for the World to Change - a video from our brothers and sisters who are deaf.

Deaf Adult Services - is the only deaf service agency in all 8 counties of Western New York that provides community and client services, job placement services, advocacy services, assistive devices, community awareness and lending library.


Buffalo Catholic Deaf Apostolate - is centered at Resurrection Church in Cheektowaga, 130 Como Park Blvd. (corner of Como Park Blvd and Union Rd-Route 277)  Weekly Mass for the Deaf is celebrated at the 10:30 AM parish Mass. (Holy day vigils at 7 PM) Mass is signed by Fr. Conrad Stachowiak (director of Deaf ministry) and Sister Conchetta LoPresti, OSF 

Deaf and hearing parishioners participate together in the Mass that is spoken as well as signed.  Deaf lectors, Eucharistic ministers, and ushers serve with the hearing members of the parish as we praise God together.  Call the parish for: adult and child sacramental preparation, social events, religious education for children with hearing impairments, sacrament of reconciliation, weddings, wakes, funeral, Confirmation, home and hospital visitation, and sacrament of anointing of the sick.  Sr. Conchetta is eager to interpret in other churches of the diocese for special occasions when available.  Phone number is: 716 683-3712 or through webpage 


Sign Language for Beginners

American Sign Language Resource Guide offers a guide to the language including an alphabetical browse, humorous sayings, poetry, short essays, Wise new sayings and resources.

My Church - is a picture book about a young, deaf girl who shares her faith experience as a member of a bilingual Catholic Church where American Sign Language and English are used. It provides deaf children with a sense of belonging in their faith community and hearing children with insights into the world of deafness.

Liturgical Signs & Prayers: A Resource for Deaf Ministries (DVR) produced by the Deaf Ministry Offices of the Archdioceses of Washington and Baltimore, 2008. Available from the Center for Deaf Ministries, Archdiocese of Washington, 301-459-7464 at or Deaf Ministries for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, 410-347-0704, 

Sacrament of  Reconciliation - is a Dvd and lesson plans designed to assist in preparing candidates whoa re deaf or have a hearing loss for the Sacrament of reconciliation, Download order form  

Support Groups

Buffalo Club for the Deaf   is  a non profit organization established in 1944 for the deaf community in Buffalo and Western New York Region offering social gatherings.  Deaf Social Support Group - ILNC's Deaf Services Coordinator offers this in the ILNC conference room on the first Wednesday of the month from 1 - 3 pm. The group is open to all deaf adults. They talk about their everyday lives, go to lunch and hold discussions on problems and barriers that affect the deaf community.  746 Portage Road, Niagara Falls, NY 14301.  For information call 1-866-327-8877 tell the operator you want 716-284-4131 or call by TTY at 716- 284-4131.

  • a video from our brothers and sisters who are deaf

Free Download 

Communicating through Hearing Loss

For more assistance from the Diocesan Disability Inclusion Team, contact Dennis Mahaney or call 716-847-8393.

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