Bright Little works for a development organisation for sign language in Asia and the Pacific. She is Deaf (both non-hearing and in her culture). She’s been a Christian for 29 years, but she doesn’t have access to the Bible in her language – not a testament or even a whole book.
From Mission Frontiers website
She wasn’t immediately convinced about the need for sign language Bible translation, but having worked with translators and talked with other Deaf people in hearing churches, she’s now outlines 5 reasons why the Deaf need sign language translations:
1. Sign languages are different the world over.
‘Sign language is not universal. For example, the sign “father” in American Sign Language may be understood as “chicken” in Korean Sign Language or “very-big” in Myanmar Sign Language. “Woman” in Japanese Sign Language has the same handshape as “bad” in Malaysian Sign Language.’
2. The Bible is for everyone, not just the hearing.
‘When the Deaf have their own Bible in their heart language, they can “read” (watch) it daily by themselves and understand it… When given responsibility to lead a prayer, Mary (pseudonym), another Deaf member, would express, “Not me. Not me. I don’t know how to pray. I don’t understand these words of prayer.”’
3. It will open up outreach opportunities.
‘A friend, Matthew (pseudonym), questioned his own ability to share the gospel, “I am not sure if I can share the Good News with Deaf lost souls. I don’t know how to read Bible verses. How can I explain it to others?” Mark (pseudonym), has also expressed, “I have a hard time understanding Bible verses in English. Even if I give these printed tracts to other Deaf, they won’t read these tracts.”’
4. Translation will show that sign languages are real languages.
‘Like other Deaf, I used to think sign language was broken English because I thought sign language we used daily was based on English, but did not follow English structure and grammar…I learned that sign language is a true language with its distinct linguistic system. It has the same kind of expressive power as a spoken language.’
5. Sign languages translations could empower the Deaf.
‘In some countries, there is a substantial number of Deaf who have never gone to school. In general, few Deaf make it to tertiary education… However, a sign language Bible translation project team is formed of Deaf translators, Deaf videographers, Deaf video editors, Deaf artists, Deaf annotators, Deaf translation consultants, and so forth.’
The Bible is the Story everybody needs – hearing and Deaf, young and old, in every country. Support our vision to see Bible translation started wherever it’s needed.