Deafness and Sign Language in Masonry

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ

    Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ Registered User

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    Good afternoon, Brethren.

    Have any of you ever come across meetings or ritual work done in Sign Language? I have a deaf friend who is interested in Masonry, but putting him through the degrees would present at least two problems:

    1. No members of the lodge know how to sign, and thus cannot interpret for him (I communicate with him through Facebook Messenger).
    2. Even if we did have a Mason interpreter, we would not be able to hoodwink him without him missing all spoken portions of the degrees.

    While I've asked our Grand Lecturer how we would go about this, I was wondering if anyone else had been in this situation and, if so, how they overcame it. Even if you haven't seen this situation, what would you opine?

    I should clarify that this individual has not been to meet-ups, nor has he taken steps to become a Mason; as of right now, I'm treating his scenario as a hypothetical.

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  2. Bloke

    Bloke Premium Member

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    I've not heard of this, but certainly there was a Lodge here of Blind Brothers post ww1 and also we have a ritual book from that time in braille. I have also seen several vision impaired brothers who were great ritualists but I've actually never heard (no pun intended) of a deaf man being initiated.. I would go to google - but if it was to proceed, local brothers would need to support. I guess you would only need one interpreter.. but if the man is not good at lip reading, he might end up socially isolated in lodge ?
     
  3. Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ

    Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ Registered User

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    Yeah, that's what I'm thinking too.

    I don't want to invite him to any of our meet-ups and get his hopes up just to end up telling him that we can't accommodate for his participation; at least, not until I can figure out how it would be successfully done.

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  4. chrmc

    chrmc Registered User

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    I believe it's Indiana that has a lodge set up to handle candidates with disabilities. Not sure how common it is, or in how many states you can see it, but I'd reach out to your GL and see what accommodations they may be able to make.
     
  5. Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ

    Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ Registered User

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    Thanks :)

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  6. Matt L

    Matt L Site Benefactor

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    Brother Brandon, reach out to MWPGM Glen Cook here on the forum. He is a Past Grand Master of Masons in Utah.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  7. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    Our jurisprudence committee is discussing the matter now (and by now, I mean as I’m typing this!).
     
  8. Matt L

    Matt L Site Benefactor

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    Outstanding Sir!!!
     
  9. Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ

    Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ Registered User

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    I spoke with RW Bro. Travis McGuire about it yesterday, and he too found the question to be very perplexing.

    I'm impressed that y'all are already talking about it, given that I brought it up to him only yesterday afternoon!

    Before he left, I told him that I had one more question, to which he replied, " It's not a scenario regarding a one-armed, one-legged man, is it?" Cracked me up. He's a great guy.

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  10. Matt L

    Matt L Site Benefactor

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    MWPGM Glen, reacted to this thread and has brought it to the attention of the JP Committee. Another reason I love this forum. Outstanding group of Brother's here from all over the world.
     
  11. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    Well, to clarify, WB Travis brought it to the GM who brought it to the JP Chair who brought it to the Committee. We are discussing. The chair will take it back to the GM, who may make a decision. A bit bureaucratic, but it works. One of the benefits of being a small jurisdiction is that we can react quickly, and we have a really responsive GM. Some of us have been G Lecturers as well, as it is an appointed position in our jurisdiction, and usually no more than two terms.
     
  12. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    It is perplexing. Assuming we have a brother who can sign, that must mean we don’t use a hoodwink. Same for lip reading. Or even speech to text. Is the hoodwink a part of the ritual the GM can waive? Should he? The MM information is communicated in a particular physical positioning in our ritual. Is that to be waived as well?

    Can the individual comply with the MM ob that if he hears a plea of distress he is to come to the aid of a brother (I’ve purposely paraphrased)?

    We are a mouth to ear jurisdiction, though we allow a candidate cipher. Unless the signing brother is willing to be the coach, how does the candidate learn?

    The socialization aspect has been noted. What if the person who signs isn’t at a meeting, a function ? One of the great benefits of the fraternity is traveling. Now, admittedly, I’ve understood very little of the Romanian and Bulgarian rituals I’ve witnessed, and I was able to rely on my knowledge of various rituals, but for other than ritual, what does he do?

    Perplexing.
     
  13. Bill Lins

    Bill Lins Moderating Staff Staff Member

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    A few years back, a congenitally deaf man petitioned one of the Lodges in my District. The then Grand Master asked the Committee on Work if there were some way he could be accepted. After much discussion, the Committee ruled that he could not, as there was no way he could hear or understand what transpires during certain parts of the Degree conferrals.
     
  14. Symthrell

    Symthrell Registered User

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    I am wondering if for the part of the ritual that requires a hoodwink if the candidate that is deaf could touch the hands of the man signing and feel the words signed. I know that might seem odd but it was the way that Helen Keller was able to communicate.
     
  15. Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ

    Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ Registered User

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    That's called tactile signing; unfortunately, not many ASL speakers know it.

    Good idea, though.

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  16. LK600

    LK600 Premium Member

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    This may sound odd, but does anyone have a set of google glasses or similar for under the hoodwink? Just a thought.
     
  17. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    But would not that defeat the ritualistic purpose of the hoodwink?
     
  18. Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ

    Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ Registered User

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    Silly as it may sound, how about the use of sunglasses?

    This way, the candidate is still able to understand what's being signed. He'd still be able to see, of course, but not to the same degree as everyone else.

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  19. Glen Cook

    Glen Cook G A Cook Site Benefactor

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    Recall the rather precise language of the Utah EA degree describing the purpose of the HW. Would beholding some of the lodge be consistent with that language?
     
  20. Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ

    Brandon T Cole ᎡᏙᎰᎢ Registered User

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    It would not.

    That being written, exceptions have been made in other cases. A good example, I think, would be that of providing chairs to those with bad knees during portions of the degree when the candidate does not regularly sit (which would also conflict with the wording of any of the three Utah degrees).

    The other few examples that I'm aware of require more detail than I'm comfortable sharing in a public forum, but if such exceptions are already made due to necessity, I personally believe that a candidate's deafness is something that's worth accommodation.

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