Thanks to widespread video and Internet access, we can provide sign language Bible resources like never before. To fulfill our mission and to reflect our core values, Deaf Bible Society ensures that the truth of God’s Word is clearly communicated in sign language videos with the Deaf community and culture in mind.

OUR MISSION IS TO PROVIDE

OUR VISION

Motivated by the Great Commission, we seek to reveal the hope of the gospel in Jesus Christ, so that every Deaf person has the opportunity to receive, experience, and share it.

OUR CORE VALUES

GOD FIRST
DEAF CENTRIC
INNOVATION
SERVANT HEARTED
LEGACY
STEWARDSHIP

Why are the Deaf one of the most unreached and unengaged people groups?

Throughout history, Deaf people have been shunned or cast out of hearing communities. During the time of Greek philosophers Aristotle and Socrates, Deaf people were thought to have no intelligence. During Hitler’s reign, Deaf people were tested and tormented in science experiments. In the United States during languages, independent of spoken languages. The work of translating the Bible into other languages has been around for centuries. For example, the English Bible was translated in the 1500s. Yet, not one of the world’s 400+ known sign languages has a full Bible translation.
The historical mistreatment of the Deaf, the recent recognition of sign languages as unique and distinct languages, and the stark reality that no full Bible translation exists in any sign language yet—these reasons, and more, all contribute to the Deaf being one of the last and most unreached and unengaged people groups with the gospel.

What are the major differences between spoken and signed languages?

Communication is a basic human need. Language is the primary way to communicate, but its expression is different between the hearing and Deaf communities. Spoken languages are expressed through oral and aural means—with the voice and heard by the ears. Signed languages are expressed gesturally and visually—by the hands and face and seen by the eyes.
Sign languages are not derivatives nor are they “simplified” versions of a spoken language. They contain structures and processes different from what spoken languages use. A prime example of this is American Sign Language. It is not English. It is its own distinct language.

Why isn’t there a universal sign language?

The idea that there is a universal sign language is one of the biggest misconceptions about the Deaf. Just as hearing people have many languages, the Deaf have many sign languages too. Like spoken languages, signed languages are naturally occurring in communities all over the world. Spoken languages use specific sets of sounds to build words. Those words are organized in particular ways with unique meaning to create sentences and paragraphs. Signed languages, on the other hand, have rules for specific combinations of handshapes, movements, locations near/on the body, and facial expressions to create signs. Each sign language organizes its signs in specific ways with specific meaning to create sentences and paragraphs. Just as spoken languages vary between themselves in how they build words and organize sentences (English is completely different from Chinese), signed languages vary as well. Sign languages also have language families. The spoken languages of French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian are all derived from Latin. The same concept can be applied to some groups of signed languages. Sign languages within the same language family have similar roots, but are all still very different.

Why don’t Deaf people just learn to read?

The hearing community begins learning how to read at a very young age. For most hearing children, this means starting with the alphabet and attaching sounds to each letter. From there they begin piecing together the letters to create words, then the words to form sentences. But for Deaf children, learning to read is a different process. They can’t hear the sounds in a word, so they have to memorize the sequence of letters as a full word, attach the sequence to a concept, then the concept to a picture. For example, w-i-n-d spells "wind." When we hear this spoken, we know whether it’s the movement of air or what’s being done to a toy. Sound gives meaning, but for a Deaf person, it’s still the same seen sequence. Context and contrast are what help give meaning. This is often why reading a sound/ text-based language is not considered a natural part to a Deaf person’s native sign language.

What is a sign language Bible and how is it translated?

A sign language Bible is God’s Word translated from either written or spoken form into the unique sign language used by a specific Deaf community. This is done by following established translation principles and recording the sign language Bible translation in video format. A sign language Bible is a video Bible a Deaf person can watch and see God’s Word in their sign language.
Sign language Bibles typically follow two versions. Chronological Bible Translation (CBT) structures Bible content by stories, such as the Creation Story. A Bookby- Book (BBB) sign language Bible is structured by the traditional chapter and verse breaks. CBT and BBB are not word-for-word translations, because the structure of sign languages is different from the structure of hearing languages that are spoken.
The sign language Bible translation process follows a similar methodology as a written language translation— only the rewrites and drafts are reshoots, as video is the medium for capturing the visual language of the Deaf. The general steps for translating the Bible into a sign language include:
Step 1, Exegesis and First Video Draft, is when the translation team works with selected Deaf people from a community to study a particular Scripture. This involves understanding the passage in its context, as well as gathering information from the original languages, history, culture, and other key information to develop a first video.Draft.
Step 2, Team Check, is when the team reviews the content and identifies mistakes and things that are unclear. This often requires a new set of eyes on the content to double check the work.
Step 3, Edit and Reshoot, corrects the errors found in Step 2. Content is adjusted and reshot. Unlike written translations, in sign language translations the signers often need to memorize long passages of Scripture to capture it on film in “one-go.”
Step 4, Community Testing, involves showing the current video draft to the Deaf community, asking questions, and inviting feedback to see what needs to be improved. The translation team selects people from the Deaf community to participate. These are people who are not involved in the translation and represent various ages, denominations, educational backgrounds, and levels of biblical knowledge.
Step 5, Review, is when the translation team discusses the feedback received during Community Testing and what needs to be changed in the video draft.
Step 6, Consultant Check, occurs simultaneously with Step 5, but the team is receiving and incorporating feedback from a sign languages translation consultant. While the Deaf community helps with naturalness, clarity, and acceptability, the consultant’s role is to ensure the translation remains faithful to the Scriptures.
Step 7, Revise, Edit and Reshoot, incorporates the feedback and changes to produce another video draft for review. Steps 1 through 7 can repeat multiple times for a particular passage of Scripture, and a translation team can have different passages occurring at different stages in the translation process.
Step 8, Consultant Approval, finally happens when the translation team and the translation consultant are satisfied with the quality of a draft. The consultant approves the translation, and the team creates a final version for publication.
Sign language Bible content can be published bit by bit as the translation project moves along. The Deaf community doesn’t have to wait until an entire New Testament or Bible is complete. Newly completed sign language Bible content is placed on our Deaf Bible platform and accessed via the Deaf Bible app and Deaf Bible website. For Chronological Bible Translation (CBT) projects, micro SD card distribution will occur once all of the stories in a set are completed.

What is the Deaf Bible platform?

The Deaf Bible platform is a tech-based resource that houses sign language Bible content in one location. Deaf Bible currently holds Scripture in 28 sign languages, a study Bible tool that offers brief introductions and lessons on passages of Scripture, and the JESUS film—a visual dramatization of Jesus’ life—with interpretation in a number of sign languages. Users can access Deaf Bible through DeafBible.com and the Deaf Bible app, which can be downloaded from an Apple App or Google Play Store onto any smartphone or tablet. Deaf Bible can also be distributed through storage devices, such as a SIM card or USB, for people living in areas without Internet access.
We are committed to offering the best and most Deafcentric Bible experience. Our technology team is constantly working on new updates so that Deaf users can experience, engage with, and share Deaf Bible with others.

What is Deaf Church Where?

Deaf Church Where is the only online directory that provides the Deaf within the U.S. a visual resource for finding and contacting local churches in their community.
The website DeafChurchWhere.com presents a map that automatically uses your current location to search for churches in your area. You can also search for churches by their name, city, state,etc.
Deaf Bible Society hopes to expand Deaf Church Where to be an international resource for Deaf communities all around the world. If you would like your church to be added to Deaf Church Where, please email [email protected].

How can I partner with DBS to help make a difference for the Deaf?

Great Commission initiatives among the Deaf to reveal the hope of the gospel so that every Deaf person has the opportunity to receive, experience, and share it. Join hands with us on this journey by becoming an advocate for the Deaf, praying, or giving financially.
Become an advocate for the Deaf. Take some time to research Deaf history and culture. Visit our website to learn more about how we are reaching the Deaf with the gospel in their sign languages. Challenge yourself about your own misperceptions about the Deaf and then work toward educating others about what you have learned. Prejudices about the Deaf are very real and, your willingness to become an advocate paves the way for Truth to be revealed. For further information on becoming a Deaf Advocate, please email [email protected].
Partner with us in prayer. Prayer is powerful. Jesus prayed, and He instructed us to pray. We know and have experienced forces at play that will stop at nothing to see this Kingdom work destroyed and for the Deaf to remain in darkness. We need your prayers for the 70 million Deaf around the world to come to know the Truth of the Bible. We need your prayers for our field teams, projects, and much more! To become a prayer partner, text the word PRAY to 444999 and gain access to exclusive prayer content.
Give generously. Deaf Bible Society hopes to have 125 sign language translation projects started by 2021. There is a lot of work to be done, and it takes resources. Your financial partnership will help reach the world’s most unreached and unengaged people groups with the gospel in their sign languages. By becoming a resource partner, you will receive exclusive updates and stories of how your gifts are making a direct Kingdom impact. Give today to see Deaf lives transformed by the gospel. Please visit DeafBibleSociety.com/Donate.

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