It’s day two in the International Week of the Deaf, an annual celebration of Deaf culture, accomplishments, and sign languages.
Each of the seven days has a specific focus, and IWD aims to raise Deaf awareness and advocacy among the wider hearing community. Read past IWD stories here.
There are approximately 70 million Deaf people worldwide who use more than 350 unique sign languages. Until this summer, no sign language a complete Bible. Today, U.S. Deaf believers rejoice as the first to have all of God’s Word within reach. Watch the ASLV Bible here.
“There has been a tremendous and exciting reaction from the U.S. Deaf Christian community,” Deaf Missions President Chad Entinger says via email. Earlier this month, the first-ever ASLV Bible “went live” on Deaf Missions’ app after 38 years of labor.
“Doing sign language Bible translation with video drafts takes longer than text or printed drafts,” Entinger explains.
“Our patience was tested at times as this journey was a long marathon, not a sprint.”
“The amount of technical skill needed is so much more than what we need for written translation, so it is a bigger task. It often takes longer,” Wycliffe USA’s Andy Keener says.
In 2016, Wycliffe USA joined American Bible Society, Deaf Bible Society, Deaf Harbor, DOOR International, Pioneer Bible Translators, and Seed Company in a new collaborative effort to help Deaf Missions cross the finish line.
“Four years ago, [Deaf Missions] said, ‘we’re about 16 years from completion.’ Several organizations got together and said, ‘if we had the resources, could we do it in four?’” Keener recalls.
Entinger adds, “thanks to God’s provision through the generosity of Deaf Missions donors and funding partners, we were able to overcome funding challenges and onboard more translators to accelerate completion of the Bible, thereby finishing in 2020 instead of our original projection of 2033!”
First and foremost, pray. “Spend time in prayer for the sign language Bible translation projects currently happening, and for future projects. [Pray] for sign language Bibles to impact Deaf Christians more than ever before,” Entinger requests.
Look into the work of Deaf ministries like Deaf Bible Society, Deaf Missions, or DOOR International. “These are organizations ministering with and to Deaf people worldwide. Get to know them; come alongside one of these organizations, and help them carry out the ministry that they’re engaged in,” Keener suggests.
“Raising that awareness helps make sure we’re connecting well with Deaf people, and they’re not left out, especially in the message of the Gospel.”
Learn more about Deaf culture in case you cross paths with a Deaf individual. “Learn a few signs; be prepared to greet someone and let them know that you care. There is a cross-cultural aspect to engaging with Deaf people,” Keener says.
“Take your cell phone, go to wherever you get your apps and look for the Deaf Bible app. Find the American Sign Language version of the Bible. Have it on your phone when you meet a Deaf person [and share it with them]. Many Deaf people don’t even know that the Scriptures are available in sign language.”