March23 , 2023

    World’s First Full Sign Language Bible Completed

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    Deaf Missions announced that after 39 years, the American Sign Language Version Bible translation is now completed.

    The Christian organization started the translation project, called the Omega project, in 1981. A team of 40 different Bible translators, 4 consultants, three generations of Deaf signers and the American Deaf Community worked together to complete the Herculean project.

    DOOR has been in partnership with Deaf Missions on this project to see American Sign Language be one of the first [sign] languages to have full Scripture access. —Rob Myers, CEO of DOOR International

    “Deaf Missions is the oldest running [sign language] Bible translation [organization] out there. They started in the early 1980s and have been persevering, even through various changes in technology,” said Rob Myers, CEO of DOOR International.

    Myers explained that improvements in technology were crucial in speeding up the process of translating the written Bible into visual form. From VHS tapes, the team is now utilizing the latest technology to provide the ASL Bible translation in a new app coming this October.

    There are 70 million Deaf people around the world using more than 350 sign languages. None of these languages have a complete translated Bible. For U.S. Deaf people, the American Sign Language is their heart language, but ASL doesn’t have a full Bible translation until now, reports Mission Network News.

    “DOOR has been in partnership with Deaf Missions on this project to see American Sign Language be one of the first [sign] languages to have full Scripture access,” Myers notes.

    Duane King, a minister in the Independent Christian Church, was one of the pioneers in the Omega project, reports Christian Headlines. In an interview in 2014, he said, “Deaf people rely so much on their eyesight that they want everything to be tangible—they want to be able to see everything.”

    Meantime, Harold Noe, a Hebrew and Greek scholar who worked with Deaf Missions, said there were challenges in translating the Bible to sign language. He explained that ASL has a different syntax from English as he shared an experience he had with Deaf students.

    “The same sign used for ‘resurrection’ is the sign for ‘stand up,'” Noe said. “I recall working with some children at the Iowa School for the Deaf. When I signed that sign for resurrection, the kids would stand up. I kept saying, ‘No, it’s not time to go yet.'”

    The Deaf Missions app is in the process of editing, community checks and consultant checks. The final version is expected to be available in the fall.