Signs of hope
Deaf communities worldwide are now recognized as an unreached people group. In this group over 70 million people have a sign language as their heart language. There are over 400 sign languages and yet some Bible translation has so far only been carried out for 40 of these and no sign language Bible exists.
Some Bible Societies have been working hard for many years to translate the Bible into a sign language and now many more are responding to this challenge.
Sign languages are often misunderstood as a signed form of a spoken language, but in fact they are entirely separate complex languages with their own structure and grammar. The task of presenting God’s Word faithfully in a visual translation is a difficult and demanding one which requires dedicated research and many revisions. To produce high quality translations in a form which are natural and acceptable Bible Societies work with Deaf translators and often with the vital support of international ministry partners.
Deaf children with access to education learn a sign language as their first language. They may later have the opportunity to learn the spoken language of their country as a second language, but relying on memory instead of associating sounds with words makes this a difficult task. Their heart language will remain the sign language that first connected them to the world and the people around them and for most that will be their only language through life. To encounter God’s Word and fully understand his message of love and forgiveness they must see it signed in the language that speaks to them personally, to their mind and their heart.
What does a sign language Bible look like?
A version of the Bible in a sign language is a video you can navigate instead of a text. Earlier translations had to be accessed over the internet or from DVDs but now they are starting to be available for download to your smartphone or tablet computer and Apps with extra functions are improving all the time.
Some sign language Bible translation projects