Note: Our guest on this week’s show signed his responses so we are also making a video of this podcast available below. A transcript of our conversation is also included at the end of this article.
Donations from the 40,000 attendees at this year’s Passion Conference raised nearly half a million dollars to fund Bible translations for the deaf. These funds will boost projects in Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Moldova, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, and Russia.
No sign language has a full Bible translation, and just 2 percent of deaf people around the world have access to the Gospels in their sign languages. According to CT’s reporting:
Sign languages aren’t structured like text-based or spoken languages [and] they require their own processes for passages of Scripture to be told visually through sign. Chronological Bible Translation (CBT) translates the Bible by stories, while Book-by-Book (BBB) translation uses the chapter and verse structure, the Deaf Bible Society explained.
The deaf community is made up of visual learners, says Jason Suhr, the director of Scripture Engagement & Translation at the Deaf Bible Society.
“We don’t rely on specific words,” said Suhr, through translator William Ross III.
“We kind of rely more on images and the context of those images.”
When someone is signing, they will first set the scene, often spelling out the weather and where objects, plants, trees, or people might be.
“You don’t really get a lot of that in English,” said Suhr. “You have to create that image in your head, whereas deaf people are able to set that up.”
Suhr joined digital ...1
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