:: South Bend Tribune | Interpreters make deaf feel welcome ::

Interpreters make deaf feel welcomee


April 12, 2007
By LYN STEGEMILLER
Tribune Staff Writer

Patty Vargo.jpg

Jabbing the air with a finger or raising upturned palms, the Rev. Greg Larson uses his hands to accentuate the main points of his Sunday sermon.

But the dynamic hands of interpreter Patty Vargo present the entire pastoral message to deaf parishioners sitting in the front rows of St. Joseph Church of Christ, 3550 Niles Road, St. Joseph.

Without this window into the worship service, Rusty Beltz sits in church and reads his Bible, he says.

Actually, he adds, having an interpreter keeps him attending.

Beltz, who can hear the voices of people in church but cannot understand what they are saying, says he feels closer to God when he can participate in services through an interpreter.

“I am thankful that God has given me the opportunity to serve Him,” Vargo says.

Vargo sits in a black cushioned chair at the front of the church, facing the pews. She uses a sign system that is closer to CASE (Conceptually Accurate Signed English) than American Sign Language, in order to match the language preferences of the deaf parishioners, she says.

Nancy Hipskind, a member of the congregation, already has signed the first part of the March 18 worship service. Having refreshed her signing skills at a class taught by Vargo and the deaf church members, Hipskind helps signing hands combine with soaring voices for hymns and communal prayers.

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