Volunteers aid deaf in family research

A small corps of volunteers at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is helping extend the blessings of family research to the hearing impaired.

On Wednesday afternoons and at other times when needed, five volunteers from the Salt Lake Valley (Deaf) Ward, representing the Church's Speical Needs Committee, give their services to library patrons.The five – Vynola Perkins, Roxanna Walker, Rosie Losee, Shelly Broadwater and Josephine Lutton – were trained in the same procedures as other volunteers and the missionaries who work in the library, according to Pat Heilpern.

Sister Heilpern, a library employee who develops services for library visitors with special needs, trained the volunteers. She was assisted by Jill Ward, another employee who trains missionaries and volunteers at the library.

"They are very amiable people, very patient and loving," Sister Heilpern said. "Sometimes when they leave I have a lump in my throat because they are so caring."

Communicating with sign language, the volunteers show patrons how to research census records, special collections and the International Genealogical Index, and how to find family histories using the catalog.

"The thing that amazes me most is their attitude," said Sister Heilpern. "They are so willing to come and help. I have called them before at a moment's notice and they have come.