Hackensack church offers captioning for hearing-impaired
Americas, April 17 2011
Holy Trinity R.C. Church in Hackensack could well be the first church in North Jersey to offer captions for hearing impaired.
Sunday, which was Palm Sunday, was the second time it has been offered during a Holy Trinity Mass.
The captioning, offered twice a month and displayed on a large screen, was the idea of Rosemarie Kasper of Hackensack, a parishioner and longtime advocate for the disabled. Kasper, who was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as “brittle bone disease,” uses a wheelchair, and fought for wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms and so on.
Her condition also led to hearing loss. Through the Hearing Loss Association of America, Kasper met Bernice Bonilla, a Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) reporter, who offered to provide captions at Holy Trinity twice a month.
“The first captioned Mass was on April 3 and was the first Mass I had been able to ‘hear’ for many, many years,” Kasper wrote in an e-mail. “It was wonderful!
“Attending Mass or another type of religious service without being able to hear what is being said certainly detracts from the service, and hearing loss is a very prevalent disorder,” Kasper said. “The problem is that many people do not disclose their loss and so are unable to benefit from the significant advances being made in technical and other services to enhance communication.
“Just as with wheelchair access issues, advocacy is paramount,” Kasper wrote. “Staying at home to avoid problems or pretending to understand when we don’t will not help us or future generations, and joining with others in a cause can be rewarding in itself.”
Kasper said she did not know of any other houses of worship in North Jersey that offer the captioning.
The Rev. Paul Prevosto, pastor of Holy Trinity, said that the captioning helps the hard-of-hearing with parts of the service that are not in the prayer book.
“Certainly, they can read along with parts of the Mass, but certain parts are not in the book — the homily, for instance, which is an important part of the Mass,” Prevosto said.