Children learning the signs of Easter
By Deb Fox | Wycliffe Today Winter 2023 |
In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness. – Isaiah 28:18 (NLT)
Do you remember listening to Bible stories in Sunday School? For many Deaf children, there are very few resources available for them to learn more about God’s love for them. So far, only American Sign Language (ASL) has the full Bible available. Australian Sign Language (Auslan) only has a few books translated and does not have any resources to support Scripture engagement. Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia members Saul and Rebecca Thurrowgood want to change that.
The Thurrowgoods have been working in partnership with the Bible Society to create animated Bible stories for children in Auslan. The Christmas story was released at the end of 2022 and an Easter message was recently published. The videos are based on evangelical children’s booklets the Bible Society produced a couple of years ago. They have been created using the motion capture Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool called ‘Chameleon’ which Saul and his team have been refining for the past 10 years ’and which converts the signed movements from a real person to an animated character.
Last year, the Bible Society wanted to see if they could use Chameleon for translation projects and they came to check it out. We trialled the technology with the Christmas story and were thrilled that it worked so well. The second time around, everything worked even more smoothly with the Easter story. All the characters are consistent throughout the series. It’s been a long time building up but we’re finally seeing fruit from all the years of hard work to get Chameleon off the ground.
I’ve been thinking a lot about creating resources for kids to put online to equip the church. These videos are like a seed – the first in a way of creating resources for Deaf children. Auslan has its own linguistic style that is very poetic visually that would not translate the same way in spoken English. These videos provide the stories in a form that kids can easily understand. We have a dream for Deaf community to be able to connect with the gospel. The children’s stories we’ve created using Chameleon so far will hopefully be a good start.
- for more people to join the team! We need workers highly skilled in programming, computer science, AI, computer vision and robotics
- that the Auslan translation of the Easter story can continue to be shared with Deaf children throughout Australia and open their hearts to the love of Jesus
- for the languages and countries that have shared an interest in using Chameleon