Sunday, May 02, 2010

Wycliffe, DOOR to translate Bible for deaf people

Wycliffe Associates and a ministry to the deaf have announced a new partnership to translate the Bible into sign language for the millions of people who do not have access to the Scriptures.

Deaf Opportunity Outreach International (DOOR) will work with Wycliffe Bible Translators and teams of deaf translators from various nations to bring the Scripture to video format.

“Being blind separates you from things, but being deaf separates you from people,” explained Bruce Smith, president/CEO at Wycliffe Associates, citing American author Helen Keller, who became blind and deaf as a young child.

“We want to make sure that being deaf doesn’t separate you from God,” Smith said.

Contrary to popular belief, many people who use sign languages are like oral learners and cannot read the Scriptures. Moreover, sign languages are not based on the spoken language in the country of origin. A person from Latin America, for example, would not be signing in Spanish but in their own unique expressions.

According to Wycliffe Associates, which mobilises volunteers and resources to support Bible translation efforts, there are more than 200 identified sign languages being used in the world and some 70 million people worldwide communicating with sign language.

Despite the need to reach deaf people in their own “heart language”, “very few” sign languages are being used to teach the Scripture. Only people who use American Sign Language have the New Testament in video format, while video recording of the Old Testament is in progress.

No other known sign languages in the world have the Bible in complete form.

Wycliffe Associates, in its effort to help Bible translation for the deaf, has sent construction volunteers to San Jose, Costa Rica, where they completed the remodelling of a building that will be used as a studio to record the video translation.

The group plans to build two more studios in Latin America and as many as ten more studios in the years to come to help translations into sign languages.

Since early 2009, Wycliffe Associates has worked closely with DOOR, starting with the construction of DOOR’s international headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Each year, Wycliffe Associates contribute more than 560,000 volunteer hours to help Bible translation efforts.

This year, Wycliffe Associates plans to mobilise more than 5,600 volunteers to serve in 63 different countries to build and renovate facilities, construct roads and airstrips, teach Vacation Bible School, help with language development and office work, oversee projects, use their computer skills, and more.