A decades-long project to translate the whole Bible into American Sign Language (ASL) from the original texts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek was completed last month. ASL is the mother tongue of 408,000* Deaf people in the US and several other countries, and is the only one of the world’s 400 sign languages with the full Bible.
It was carried out by a team of more than 50 people, most of whom use ASL as their first language, with the help of eminent theologians and exegetes from different Christian confessions. This close collaboration has ensured that the American Sign Language Version Bible (in video format) is easy to understand, faithfully and accurately conveys Biblical truth and is accepted by all major Christian denominations.
“We celebrate the faithful, diligent work of those who have worked with Deaf Missions through the years to get all 66 books translated into ASL – the native, preferred and heart language of Deaf people,” says Deaf Missions CEO Chad Entinger.
According to Deaf Missions, there have been more than one million downloads of the ASLV Scriptures so far. In a video on their website, JP, a young man, shares how being able to access the Bible in ASL helps him in several ways.
“It helps my understanding of sign language and broadens my communication through different ways to sign things,” he explains. “I become so engrossed in it that I watch some parts over and over again so I can study and meditate on it. Sign language is very beautiful and exciting and it draws me into God’s Word.”
Over the many years of the translation project, as technology rapidly developed, the team adapted its approach several times to make the most of new opportunities to break down the barriers preventing Deaf people from accessing the Bible. Their experience is helping other sign language translation projects, and the ASLV Bible will be used as a resource for sign language Scripture translation around the world.
Source: Deaf Missions and American Bible Society.