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January 18, 2004

Transcriptions enhance worship experience for the hearing-impaired

From: Coshocton Tribune, OH - Jan 18, 2004

By CARY ASHBY Staff Writer

COSHOCTON -- Pastor Phil Spriggs is excited about having one of his parishioners transcribe what is being said at Coshocton Christian Tabernacle worship services onto a TV screen.

Since March 2003, freelance court reporter Lynn Els of Warsaw has used her transcription equipment and lap-top computer to assist hearing impaired church members in understanding Sunday services.

"She's wanted to do this for quite some time. We talked about it and figured out a way to hook her machine up to the TV in the sanctuary. Anything that is said is put on the screen," Spriggs said.

Warsaw farmer Dale Hedrick, who is mildly hard-of-hearing, said Els is impressive in how fast she can type. He said Els' work allows him to "hear" every word of the worship service now.

"She's doing quite a service down there. She's my ears," Hedrick said.

Els said she was inspired to do the worship transcribing when asked to work at a September 2002 church conference featuring the daughter of veteran evangelist Rev. Billy Graham. She called it a "dream job."

"I was just mesmerized by my hands. I was getting every stroke," Els said about working backstage for six hours on one day.

During evening services in Coshocton, Els said she used to practice worship transcriptions by fitting her equipment into the pew sideways.

Not only does Els' volunteer work enhance worship for the hearing impaired, Spriggs said everything is set up so such church members don't have to wear headphones and the equipment does not distract from the service.

"They can take advantage of it anonymously," said Spriggs' wife, Crystal.

People who want to see the 25-inch television screen can sit almost anywhere in the sanctuary, Phil Spriggs said. That means people don't have to ask for assistance or sit in particular pews, they can simply come into church and sit where they'd like.

Els said it was fulfilling to have Hedrick tell her he now could "hear with his eyes."

Since Els uses her own equipment and the church already had the TV, Spriggs said it cost the church very little, about $100 for the cable equipment.

Worship services at Coshocton Christian Tabernacle were already incorporating video equipment before Els began her volunteer work. Spriggs said lyrics for praise songs are shown on a projector screen and for the past two years, he has used a PowerPoint presentation during his sermons.

Eventually, Spriggs wants the church to purchase software for closed captioning so that there is a live video of the service to accompany what is being said.

"We're very blessed to have Lynn in the congregation. We're very pleased to have that as part of the ministry at the church," he said.


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