Sign Languages

Use your media skills in illustration, video or animation technology, in sign language translation projects for the Deaf.

There are 70 million sign language users. Most of them do not have a mother tongue, because their parents are hearing. They do not use a spoken language but a signed one. More than 200 sign languages have been confirmed, but there could be more than 400. Yet no sign language has a complete Bible, and only one has the whole New Testament (American Sign Language).

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Why translate the Bible into sign languages? Why can’t Deaf people just read it?
First, it’s not their language. For most Deaf people, sign language is the first language they learnt and the language of their heart.

Second, many Deaf are illiterate. This is partly due to poor literacy in many countries, but also because reading can be more difficult: letters correspond to sounds, sounds that most Deaf people have never heard. Each combination of letters has to be memorised separately, and reading is more like looking at a list of phone numbers than words — not exactly something that clearly speaks to your heart!

Third, the grammars of sign languages are very different from those of spoken languages.

What does a sign language Bible look like?
Sign language Bible portions can be produced in many different forms. These include videos, animations, sign writing and line drawings.

Are there many Deaf Christians?
There is a big need for Bible translation among deaf communities: only 1-2% of Deaf people are Christian, which means that Deaf communities are some of the least reached in the world. Without the ability to access God’s Word in a language they truly understand, how can they come to know God?

You can make a difference for the Deaf particularly if you have media skills in illustration, video or animation technology, but also by prayer or by financially supporting translation projects for the Deaf. Wycliffe Bible Translators partners with Seed Company and DOOR International, working with Deaf communities to support their Bible translations. Wycliffe Australia also partners with the Deaf Bible Society working on producing animated Bibles for Deaf communities.

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Thanks for your patience...

Waiting is hard, isn't it. But imagine waiting 2000 years for Scripture in your language! Thanks for your patience. And thanks for your generous support which will help bring the long wait to an end...