: So You Want To Become A Silent Herald
So You Want To Become A Silent Herald
Articles > Silent Heraldry

So You Want To Become A Silent Herald?

Maestra Suzanne de la Ferté (Suzanne Booth)

So … you decide you want to volunteer and wonder what you can do to help. It’s not as hard as you think to become a Silent Herald for your area. Here are some tips:

How do I volunteer (besides sending my contact information to my kingdom Silent Herald and Principal Herald)?

At your local level, let your group's leaders (seneschal, baron/baroness) and the local group herald know that you are available and willing to sign at meetings, revels, etc. Make arrangements with the herald to stand with him/her, so you can sign what's being said. If you're available to sign for an event where there'll be a royal court, contact your Kingdom Herald so he/she can coordinate with Their Majesties' (and Their Highnesses’) chamberlains and the steward of that event.

Don’t let a lack of formal training stop you!

Just being able to fingerspell is enough to get started. Some kind of communication is better than none. If you can point to the person getting the award and fingerspell “A” “O” “A”, then any of the folks in the room who are possibly hearing-impaired or just needing some sort of visual assist will at least have some sort of an idea of what is going on.

You need to be able to hear and to be seen.

The folks who need your services need to be able to see you. It does them no good if you are stuck behind the thrones, or down on the floor and hidden behind the folks in the first row. Also, be sure to wear a tabard that contrasts with your skin so that folks can easily make out your signs. (Wearing your tabard is also a way to show that you are “on duty” and available to sign for folks.)You need to be close enough to the Voice Herald to be able to hear what he/she is saying.

Ask to be treated like any other herald.

Don’t be afraid to politely ask the Court Herald and TRM/TRH’s Chamberlain to include you in the pre-court meeting. It is tremendously helpful to be able to see how to spell the names of the award recipients. Also, if you have time, you can look up any signs for awards that you don’t already know. If you know the order of what’s going to happen in court, you’ll be better prepared for what happens there. Part of your job as a Silent Herald is to convey the “audio” portions of the event. If there is fanfare or music, you can sign “music playing.” Or, if you know that someone is going to perform “shtick” you can be prepared to ham it up with your signs too (conveying their “shtick” as well as you can). You’ll be able to concentrate on letting folks know what is happening instead of trying to figure it out on the fly.

Don’t get disheartened.

If there aren’t any immediately apparent deaf or hard-of-hearing folks who need you to sign for them, don’t get frustrated. Often, deaf and/or hard-of-hearing folks don’t go to court BECAUSE they can’t hear what’s going on and there haven’t been signers there for them in the past. Word of mouth needs to spread that there is signing in court before Silent Heralding will really take off. If you want the word to get out faster, consider having a Silent Heralds’ Point or an “Introduction to Silent Heraldry” class during the day of the event. If you have time, consider offering your services to any deaf and/or hard-of-hearing folk while they wander around the event or cruise the merchants. Having a few printed articles and manual alphabet cards available for people to take will raise a lot of interest. It is possible that there are folks out there already using your services who have not let you know that they are doing so. Remember, statistics show that one in seven people have trouble hearing and those folks may take a while to let you know they need your services (if they ever do so).

Have fun!

Since this is a volunteer organization, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Just have fun and be encouraged by the thought that what you’re doing is a boon for everyone out there!

To Learn More

There are just a few of the great internet sites out there available to help you learn more signs …

The SCA College of Arms – Silent Heraldry Articles (lots and lots of links here)

ASLPro (an online sign dictionary)

ASL Dictionary (by Lifeprint)

ASL Dictionary (by HandSpeak)

ASL Dictionary (by Signing Savvy)

ASL Browser (by Michigan State University)

Nesscia’s Silent Heraldry YouTube Channel