A sacristy

The other day I received the key to a local church where The Special Gathering main office is located.  Because the sanctuary has been recently remodeled, new keys had to be made.  The key was labeled “The sacristy.”  I thought the person who labeled the key had misspelled the word sanctuary.

Later, I looked up the word and found that a sacristy is a small room usually off the sanctuary where vestments, church records and sacred vessels are kept.  The Special Gathering office is located immediately off the sanctuary in this church.  Our office would be considered part of the sacristy by someone who is not familiar with the inner workings of this local congregation.

I laughed at myself that I was stumped by this word that was new to me.  However, the situation introduces a common problem for the mentally challenged community–reading the English language.

Reading is always problematic for our members who are mentally challenged.  Even good readers may stumble while reading a difficult Bible passage or part of their lesson.  At Special Gathering, our readers’ classes are important learning grounds.  Most often, it is our leadership who attend these classes.

If you ask your members to read, there are a couple of things that you might want to be aware.

  1. Helping with correct pronunciation is almost always appreciated.
  2. Depending on the reading level of the class, I will sometimes move from student to student as they take turns reading.  In this way, if I need to help someone, he is not embarrassed because I’ve moved from person to person.  This makes his need for correction less obvious.
  3. I find that moving my finger under the words as the person reads may be helpful.
  4. I often pronounce the word quietly, thereby, not highlighting the problem.

Helping our readers is vital because we need to be sure that they are reading the passage correctly.  However, it is equally important to preserve their dignity.

What are some of the ways you have learned to help in reading situations?  Are there other disability issues which could be sensitive to the feelings of members?