The deaf community of South Africa, especially those who use the English language as well as Sign Language, will soon have greater access to the Word of God thanks to a new Bible launched by the Bible Society of South Africa (BSSA).
The Bible for the Deaf will be launched at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town on Sunday, 24 November 2019 at 14:00.
This Bible was specifically developed, together with the Deaf, for the Deaf in South Africa but also throughout Africa and indeed anywhere in the world where English is used by the Deaf. This is also the first English translation of the Bible done by the BSSA.
The translation, which started in 2011, is written in deaf-oriented English for deaf readers who use Sign Language as their primary means of communication and who struggle to understand the language of other English Bible translations that were formulated for hearing people. Since people learn spoken language primarily through imitation and verbal communication, people who are born deaf have specific language and reading needs.
There was a great need for a written (text-based) Bible for the Deaf in English as an accessible reference text for the Deaf.
Many schools for the Deaf in South Africa and Africa use English as the medium of instruction, but unfortunately, the existing Bible translations are too difficult for most deaf people to understand.
This Bible has been translated so that the majority of deaf people who receive their education in English will understand it. A clearly defined vocabulary as well as many footnotes and illustrations were used to explain certain concepts in the text.
“The Bible Society launched a Bible for the Deaf in Afrikaans in 2008. This translation was successful in the Afrikaans-speaking deaf community and we believe that a similar English translation will make the Word of God accessible to many more deaf people in our own country, as well as throughout Africa and even further afield,”
says Rev Dirk Gevers, Chief Executive Officer of the Bible Society of South Africa.
Dr Rocco Hough, a specialist in the area of language use for the Deaf, was the project leader and exegete for the English Bible for the Deaf translation project. The team included Christopher Mongezi Galada, a deaf person who collaborated as a translator, as well as a number of source-text (Hebrew and Greek) specialists, an English-language expert, and a number of deaf people in South Africa and Africa who, as readers, tested the comprehensibility of the translation.
Because Sign Language is the mother tongue for most deaf people, a visual Bible in South African Sign language, in particular one that is understandable across the different versions of Sign Language spoken in South Africa, is also very much needed. For this reason Bible Society is partnering with Hands with Words in its South African Sign Language (video format) Bible project. This is a long-term project. The Bible for the Deaf is complementary to the Sign Language project.
The Bible for the Deaf is available at our Bible shop or at our Bible centres across the country at R249. For more, visit our website: www.biblesociety.co.za