Ephpheta’s response to the COVID-19 crisis
Liz McDowell, Business Manager of the Ephpheta Centre, shares with us what has been happening with the Ephpheta Centre.
The Ephpheta Centre – the Catholic Centre for deaf and hard of hearing people – has been working hard to continue to support our deaf and hard of hearing community at all times and especially through the current COVID-19 crisis. Many deaf people experience tremendous isolation in their daily lives – this is very much compounded by the current demands of social isolation and people being urged to stay in their homes.
Ephpheta has responded to the current challenges by the following:
Televised and Livestreamed Auslan Interpreted Masses
In collaboration with St Mary’s Cathedral and the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney – the Ephpheta centre continues to provide online Auslan interpreted Mass from the Cathedral each Friday and Sunday.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday Masses were also nationally televised on Channel 7. Ephpheta and our Auslan interpreters have been working very hard to make sure that the best access is given to the deaf community for these Masses as we cannot come together to celebrate Mass together.
We have been sharing access to these Masses through our Facebook page, our Ephpheta Centre website and also by individual contact with the community to ensure that as many people as possible can access these Masses.
Daily Prayers and Spiritual Reflections in Auslan
We have been making daily videos in Auslan of daily prayers and spiritual reflections to spiritually support the deaf community at this time.
Special Monthly Newsletter
We have been making a special monthly newsletter which is mailed out containing an accessible version of the Sunday mass readings for those people who do not have access to the internet. This newsletter contains accessible articles and some visual games and activities for the community
Connecting over Facetime, Skype, Zoom and Messenger
We have been making many one on one contacts with our deaf community. These have been video calls via Facetime, Skype, Zoom and Messenger. We have been working with individual clients who may not have had access to video technology to help them set up technology to enable them to have regular contact with the Ephpheta team. We know that many people who we support do not have strong family or social ties – so ongoing pastoral support from the Ephpheta team is even more important in these uncertain times. We have also been exchanging many text messages with the community
We have been setting up online social groups organised by Ephpheta staff to bring the deaf community together to maintain social contacts. These include a deaf men’s group, craft group, prayer group and youth group. A part of this has been spending many hours in making access to technology accessible to deaf people, especially our older deaf community.
And by mail too!
For those members of the community who do not have access to the internet, we have been writing individual cards and letters to people to make sure that they do not feel cut off from the world.
Through all of this, the Ephpheta team has been working overtime! Many hours of every day are spent in contact with our deaf brothers and sisters to give pastoral and spiritual support to people who are really struggling through this hard time until we can all see each other again.
For more information about the Ephpheta Centre please visit http://ephpheta.org.au/