Students Serve Deaf in Jamaica 

Global Perspectives, News, Service Learning

A group of Lee University students recently returned from Jamaica after serving and signing at the Jamaica Deaf Village (JDV) and Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD), located in Manchester. 

Dr. La-Juan Bradford, Lee’s director of academic support and trip leader, has traveled to JDV and CCCD six times since 2017 with students from the American Sign Language (ASL) program at Lee. According to Bradford, Jamaican Sign Language (JSL) is quite similar to ASL, allowing students to effectively communicate with the Deaf Jamaican population.  

“Before, during, and after traveling to Jamaica, our students learn about Jamaican culture, Jamaican Deaf culture, and American Deaf culture,” says Bradford. “This, alongside learning ASL, fulfills students’ Global Perspectives and foreign language requirements, while having a life-changing experience.” 

Students began each day working alongside the Deaf adults, pulling peanuts in the garden or painting the village buildings. 

“God was evident in every aspect of this trip, giving us the opportunity to let the Deaf of Jamaica lead us in their adventures,” said Merry Brown, a senior psychology major from Decatur, Tennessee. “Sign language gave us a beautiful opportunity to experience a new lens, to see the world in a way we’ve never imagined. Every day was filled with eye-opening moments that proved the Kingdom of God is ever expanding.” 

After serving with Deaf adults in the morning, the Lee team would visit children at the school for the Deaf. Lee students would sign songs with scriptural influence and then lead activities for kids. 

“I loved to hear my students sing these songs when they were working, hanging out, and just walking about. These songs are embedded in their spirits,” says Bradford. “The Deaf children could not hear the music, but they could see the signs and would sign along, enjoying the time with my students so much.” 

It is a goal of Lee’s Global Perspectives Program to foster in students a respect for the diversity of perspectives represented in the world community, to help students articulate an understanding of their own Christian values, and to show how these relate to another cultural perspective.   

“I had so many chances to make conversation with those living and working in the village, getting to know them and hearing their testimonies,” said Madelyn Aiken, a senior psychology major from Franklin, Tennessee, with a minor in Deaf studies. “I know the entire team would agree that when we left Jamaica our hearts were so full, forever having a soft spot for the Deaf Village. Only two percent of the deaf community around the world have seen the gospel of Jesus Christ, so this opportunity truly showed us the important role that language plays in religion and faith.” 

For more information about Deaf studies and American Sign Language at Lee, contact Bradford at [email protected] or visit academics/education/human-development/.   

For more information about Global Perspectives visit globalperspectives, email [email protected], or call 423-614-8357.   

CCCD exists to reach, teach, and nurture the Deaf of Jamaica so that they can experience the joy of knowing Jesus and serving within their community. This is accomplished by operating three residential schools spread geographically across the island as well as a centrally located Jamaica Deaf Village, which ministers with adult Deaf and their children. 

For more information about the Jamaican Deaf Village visit

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