Terje M. Lund at the IVSS conference i Berlin 1998:
Improving the hearing situation in churches and parish houses of Tunsberg diocese

Introduction

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Terje Marvin Lund. I am an ordained deacon of the Church of Norway, now working as advisor for diaconical matters at the administration centre of Tunsberg Diocese. Responsible for all diaconical affairs within the diocese, question about hard of hearing is one of my work areas.

The main task of the Church is to communicate the message of Jesus Christ, Saviour and Lord, to all those who visit our churches, chapels and parish houses. Immense work is being carried to improve the audibility of sermons and during other times when claer communication is of the first importance - from pulpits, altars, lecterns, and at baptisms and funerals. Unfortunately it quite often happens that the message does not reach the whole audience because of poor facilities for the hard of hearing. Loudspeakers, induction loop systems and microphone positions are far from satisfactory.

 

Looking back

During the latest seven or eight years intensive works on improving the hearing situation in churches, chapels and parish houses within our diocese has been carried out.

In our diocese we heave had, in every respect, a great dean, Jo Bolstad, known to most of you. Hard of hearing himself, he has undertaken an immense work of improving the hearing situation throughout the diocese, as well as in the country as a whole.

But only when this problem struck „the peak of the church", as our own bishop became hard of hearing and got personal insight into the problem, did this work get priority. Then, however, a good deal of money was granted for investigating, and thereafter improving, the situation.

A thorough check on twelve churches, randomly chosen, was launched, and a wellrecognized Danish company was hired to do the job. The check results were most disappointing, though giving an important picture of the hearing situation in our churches. Most probably the hearing equipment in the other churches was in the same sorry state.

The diocesan administration made specific recommandations to those parishes where the situation was at its worst, and gave more general guidelines to the other parishes of the diocese.

During the next four or five years we encouraged these local parishes to give priority to remedying the situation. We also gave grants for improvements where they were needed. And some parishes actually did give it their attention,taking far-sighted account of the need in long-term planning and in their budgets.

Yours truly, being responsible for this area within the diocese, was still not satisfied with the large number of churches and parish houses where the hearing situation was in a very poor state.

 

A new deal

The matter was put on the agenda of the Diaconal Committee of the diocese, and it was decided to run another check, this time full scale in all churches, chapels and parish houses in the diocese. A special committee was established with Sigrun Volden, Britt Dahl and myself as members.

We turned to „Hørselshemmedes Landsforbund" (The national assosiation of hard of hearing), represented county level and by local groups. They more than willingly entered into a joint venture, and we decided to run a user-based check on all the churches, chapels and parish houses within the diocese.

The check was run at a „grass-roots" level, as representatives from each parish (pastor, deacon or verger) together with hard of hearing persons checked each individual building. So far, we had not called for any particular expertise, other than that of those personally affected by the problem, assisted by a survey device. This was actually sufficient to reveal the extent of the faults and defects.

A form was sent to every parish office, where it was filled in with the results of the check and returned to the diocesan administration. By running this check we, naturally, wanted to implement an improvement of the hearing situation, bringing it up to an acceptable level.

The results of the check were somewhat better than anticipated, which meant that many parishes had given priority to bying new equipment. However, the check unfortunately also revealed a considerable lack of maintenance and, in addition, deficient instruction of those who are to operate the equipment. And where the situation was less than acceptable, we most strongly recommended the church wardens to bring this up in their local councils The improvements should be made within a one-year limit.

I feel it right to point out that, troughout this process, we have had a good dialogue with the church wardens, both in written and oral communication. Thereby we also gave our co-operators the opportunity to make responses, both positive and negative.

The Church of Norway is a so-called established church, which means that it is most closly connected which the governement and submitted to state legislation. Thanks to a new law on church organisation and affairs, the church wardens have become essential in the prioritising, planning and budgeting. And as I have said, the parish councils, represented by the church wardens, have been strongly recommended to buy new equipment where the situation demands it, and upgrading or maintenance wherever this will be sufficient.

 

Training church personal

All vergers and graveyard workers throughout the diocese where summoned to a one-day briefing. This training day had a multiple purpose:

* The first concentrated on meeting with mourners, on the background experience of those normally meet mourners in their everyday work, both in the churches and at the graveyards. Many relatives visit cemeteries to see to the graves of their loved ones. Vergers and graveyard workers are therefore persons available and contact is naturally made with them. We therefore wanted to provide them with security and the skills necessary for performing the demanding task of meeting people who are in mourning.

*Thereafter we gave a wide training on how to use loudspeaker and induction loop systems, including practical training and the demonstration of equipment.

*We also had a session on accessibility arrangements, so that our churches can become as available and used by all.

 

Evaluation and follow-up

Within a year we shall require a written report on the actual situation from all local church councils. Our intention is to bring the hearing situation in every church, chapel and parish house up to an acceptable standard by the year 2000.

 

Dialogue amplifiers

However, permanent installations can not cover all situations. From the diocese office for diaconal work we therefore have urged every parish office to buy a dialogue amplifier which will be available for pastors and other parish workers when meeting hearing-impaired people. The amplifiers hall also be available for rent during funerals and other occasions where such equipment may be needed.

 

Information booklet to the periodicals

If we want results, it is compulsory that people know. The diocese administration has therefore issued an information booklet for all who want to learn about hearing impairment, induction loops hearing devices, or about the use of microphones etc. . The information booklet contains twelve different sections and is distributed to all editors of parish periodicals, requesting them to print the sections separatly, in consecutive editions of the periodical. The information booklet has also been translated into German and English.

 

Text telephone

The last effort made for improving the communication between the Church and its hearing-impaired members, has quite recently been made in Larvik by the rev. Eyolf Berg, who is also present at this conference. Apart from the special pastoral care for the deaf, Larvik is the first church office in Norway offering this telephone service.

English translation: Rev. Eyolf Berg

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(Viser antall besøk siden 03.08.11. -eBe-s hjemmesider ble opprettet sommeren 2004.)

Sist endret: 19.01.2018