Once Again, OU Powerpoint Program to Make Megillah Reading Accessible for the Deaf

27 Feb 2006

As Purim approaches, Our Way, a division of the National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD) serving the deaf and hearing impaired, has set a goal of 100 synagogues, double last year’s participation, to use its PowerPoint presentation for reading the Megillah (the Book of Esther).

Purim will be observed on Monday night March 13 and Tuesday, March 14.

Through Our Way, NJCD, an agency of the Orthodox Union, instituted the PowerPoint program three years ago to enable deaf and hard of hearing individuals, among others, to follow the Megillah and participate in Purim celebrations. “Purim is among the most joyous occasions in the Jewish calendar, and everyone should be able to fully participate. This PowerPoint presentation makes the Megillah reading, which is central to the occasion, accessible to all,” declared Dr. Jeff Lichtman, National Director of Yachad/NJCD.

The PowerPoint Megillah, which was made in conjunction with NCSY of Canada, works by projecting the text, which appears both in Hebrew and English, on a screen or a monitor and includes special graphics, which are related to the evil Haman.

“While the program was initially designed specifically to allow the deaf and hard of hearing to participate in the merriment,” explains Batya Jacob, the program director for Our Way, “it also enhances the Purim experience for a wide variety of non-deaf individuals — from those who have difficulty reading small text, to small children, and to those with attention deficit disorder.”

Therefore she said, “Our Way promotes the PowerPoint presentation as a key education ingredient in teaching Purim in day and Hebrew schools.”

The program is provided in CD-ROM format and is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. A $100 contribution is requested, which will be used by Our Way to further develop resources for the deaf and hard of hearing.