Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Juneau, Alaska. There’s a familiar Christmas song called, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” For many, the answer to that song would be, “No.” Be assured that the stories of hearing challenge is quite wide spread. From 37 to 140 out of every 1,000 people in the United States have some kind of hearing loss, with a large share being at least age 65. Across all age groups at least one million individuals over the age five are functionally deaf and eight million over age five are hard of hearing. The information cited can be acquired from the Gallaudet Research Institute.

Reverend Dan Wanders of
Aldersgate United Methodist Church has a low mellow speaking voice that is clear and kind. The past few years many became aware of those among us that just couldn’t hear him in worship services or others who participate as liturgist or during announcement time. The acoustics in the sanctuary are superb but this isn’t enough for those who need hearing assistance. This year a Christmas present came early for folks who benefit from hearing assistive technology in public settings—an inductive loop system. An induction cable is installed around the listening area. Microphones, head sets and a receiver operate in conjunction with the loop. The loop system reduces background noise for all who use it.

On December 2, the first Sunday of Advent, Pastor Wanders announced that the system had been installed. One woman held up her earphones proudly. Then, four or five other individuals requested the ear phones. Their faces brightened immediately. The whole room brightened as others turned on their T-switches. The system is for the purpose of human connection and making sure that people who have no other choice are not barred from the inspiring words and prayers of worship.

Many with hearing challenge often lose their pride when they find themselves not hearing as well as others. The experience of not hearing in a group can be quite isolating. All of us in one way or other deal with something in life that challenges us. People worked together to make this system work and the bill is paid.

Now one more person who didn’t hear the pastor’s bad joke during the sermon the week before can say another, “It’s nice hear the pastor even when he’s telling those bad jokes!” Not to worry! Pastor Dan Wanders is smiling. A Christmas present came early to Aldersgate.

- Sharon

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