The new board includes representatives from the Deaf community and Church departments.
In her Education Week address earlier this year, Katie Steed, disability specialist manager in the Church’s Priesthood and Family Department, shared a phrase from Isaiah 54:13—“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord”—emphasizing the word “all.”
She and her team have seen firsthand the enormous impact that even slight considerations, changes, or improvements can make in the lives of Church members with disabilities—things like including audio descriptions on Church videos and using more inclusive language in the General Handbook. Now, in an effort to continue building support for members of the Church who are Deaf and hard of hearing—especially youth and young adults—a new ASL Board of Education has been established.
While this new board’s goals are primarily to help youth and young adults deepen their conversion to Jesus Christ and His restored gospel, the efforts and discussions of this group may be even broader, since the board also includes members from the general advisory councils of the Primary and Relief Society and the Church’s Priesthood and Family Department, along with members of the Deaf community, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion leaders, and representatives from the Young Women and Young Men general advisory councils.
The newly created Church ASL Board of Education met for the first time on Friday, November 4, 2022, at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.
“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited,” Steed said in the board’s first meeting. “I’ve learned so much from so many of you here, and I’ve been humbled by your desire to reach all of God’s children. … I always say that my job is not to be a voice for the people but to elevate their voices. And I know we have a lot to learn.”
According to Church News, many of the board members have worked together for several years on various initiatives.
The inaugural meeting included a lively discussion about outcomes and successes of this summer’s pilot For the Strength of Deaf Youth (FSDY) conference, after which many youth who are Deaf and hard of hearing felt happier and more involved in the Church. The group also discussed supporting Deaf members as well as their families, expanding seminary and institute opportunities for Deaf youth and young adults, and encouraging and championing missionary work for Deaf and hard of hearing Church members.
To learn more about the Church’s various resources for members with disabilities, visit disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
You can read more about the new board, its members, and its initiatives for Deaf youth and young adults on Church News.