“A Conversation about Helping the Handicapped in Local Units,” Ensign, June 1986, 75
The Ensign recently spoke with Douglas L. Hind, manager of Special Curriculum, about the help available to members of the Church with handicaps.
Q: Does the Church have any special resources to help those with handicaps?
A: Yes. The Church has a number of printed and audiovisual resources available to local leaders, who are encouraged to find ways to best use these resources and those available in their communities to serve their own members. There are stakes in the Church that hold special midweek Young Men and Young Women meetings for the mentally retarded and learning disabled. Other areas have special area conferences for those who are handicapped, their families, and leaders.
Many of these needs can best be met at an Area level, under direction of the Area Presidencies. Some needs and problems can be solved at the stake level, with a high councilor having the responsibility for those with special needs. Other problems can best be handled on the ward or branch level.
One of the best things members can do is to take an interest in handicapped individuals and include them and their families in family and Church activities.
Q: What are the resources available through the Church? For example, for the blind?
A: We offer the Ensign Talking Book on half-speed cassettes. We produce all the basic Church manuals on cassette and some in braille. Some items are produced in large print. Upon request—and as our resources allow—we can put Church materials on cassette or in braille. For example, if a blind member in North Dakota gets called to be the new Scoutmaster and makes a request, we can record the Scout handbook or other related materials.
We also have on cassette the scripture readers—Book of Mormon, Old and New Testament—many of the Primary manuals, and the Family Home Evening Resource Book.
The Church has recently obtained a braille computer, and we are gradually producing more and more items in braille.
Q: What materials are available to help deaf members?
A: We have just put on videocassette the Book of Mormon and the Old and New Testament scripture readers. These videos use the same pictures from the books and filmstrips, but the text is given in sign language. Many of the regular videos available through the Salt Lake Distribution Center are also available through our department with either signing or closed captions.
Last year we completed a video, And They Shall Have Joy. This video, explaining the plan of salvation, was produced with an all-deaf cast using sign language. Another videocassette presents all the priesthood ordinances performed in sign language and explains how the ordinances can be performed either by deaf priesthood holders or for the deaf.
A new development is our ability to broadcast closed captions over the Church’s satellite system and other Church media. The general conferences, satellite broadcasts, and other selected firesides and programs will be closed captioned.
This year the National Association for the Deaf is having their annual conference in Salt Lake City. In conjunction with this, the Church will hold a Deaf Symposium on 18–21 July 1986. This is for local leaders, parents, and deaf members and will feature workshops, a play with deaf actors, a special fireside, and a testimony meeting.
Q: What are the special helps for the mentally retarded and those with learning disabilities ?
A: All of the scripture story readers are excellent for the mentally retarded. They are most effective when the readers and audiocassettes are used together so the individual can hear the words and view the illustrations simultaneously. For the same reason, the mentally retarded would find useful our captioned filmstrips on Church history, the Book of Mormon, and the Old Testament.
We have also prepared Guidelines for Parents and Guardians of Handicapped Children (PBIC0449; $2.95) and Teaching the Handicapped (PBIC0187, $5.00), which may be very helpful to those who work with the handicapped. Lists of these and materials useful to those with other handicaps are available through our office. Anyone interested in copies of these listings may write to Special Curriculum, 24th Floor, 50 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.