Earlier this year, members from each Bible Society around the world gathered together to discuss the vision and purpose of the Bible Societies in the coming years. One area that arose was the desperate need for more Scriptures for the Deaf. The New Testament is available in American Sign Language and this is the largest portion of Scripture currently available in sign language. The President of the Deaf Bible Society delivered a message in sign language highlighting this great need.

For generations, the Deaf community has been crying out for the Bible, but due to technology, ignorance and various other reasons, the Gospel hasn’t gone out to them. It is not for us to decide which people group is worthy to receive this message, but to take this worthy Gospel to all people.
JR Bucklew, President of the Deaf Bible Society

This November, the Bible Society in the Philippines is celebrating its 117th anniversary, with the Signs of Hope Bible celebration in Manila. The celebration will focus on the translation of the Bible into Filipino Sign Language.

There are an estimated 1 million deaf people in the Philippines. The Philippine Bible Society’s project to translate the Bible into Filipino Sign Language, which is due to be completed at the end of 2017, aims to provide them access to God’s Word in their heart language and to empower deaf pastors to prepare their Bible Study lessons based on the Scriptures in their own language. The Bible will be made available on three DVDs; a sample of one of the DVDs can be seen below.

Why translate the Bible into sign language?

Many people without hearing impairments often wonder why it is necessary to translate the Bible into sign language when the Deaf can see and read it. Sign language is the language of deaf people, it is their heart language. It does not follow the same grammar and structure that the spoken and written language of people without hearing impairments does. Deaf people in the Philippines rarely learn the written and spoken local language fluently. It is a second language for them.

Many deaf people in the Philippines are not educated and those who are educated still find it difficult to understand some of the words. Some churches communicate their Sunday services via sign language for the Deaf. But sometimes around only 50-60% of the message is understood because the sermons are done with the hearing in mind, so the context is not for the Deaf.

Please pray that the translation of the Bible into Filipino Sign Language will be successful and that those who receive copies of the translation on DVD will be able to better connect with God’s Word for the first time in their own heart language. Pray for the Bible Societies around the world that they will continue to work together to bring more sign language Scripture translations to those who are desperate to receive God’s Word in the language they understand best.