Nearly 40 years and more than 50 translators later, the Bible has been fully translated into American Sign Language.
The new ASL Version (ASLV) was an undertaking led by Deaf Missions and marks the very first time all of Scripture has been accessible to the Deaf community, Baptist Press reported.
“God answered the faithful prayers of His people, encouraged us through the generous provision of Deaf Missions supporters and funding partners, blessed us with 53 diligent translators and helped us persevere each step of the way,” Deaf Mission CEO Chad Entinger said in a written statement.
“Like a runner crossing the finish line of a marathon, we are beyond exhilarated … that now, finally, we Deaf people have all of God’s Word in our native, heart language,” he added.
The project began all the way back in 1982, when Deaf Missions founder Duane King started raising questions about why the Deaf community didn’t have access to the Bible in their own language.
While the New Testament was totally translated by 2004, it wasn’t until this year the entire Old Testament was completed.
In 2019, King told Christianity Today that most hearing people “don’t understand how difficult it is to learn to read what you cannot hear,” adding, “Deaf people rely so much on their eyesight that they want everything to be tangible—they want to be able to see everything.”
The project has already been an encouragement to Deaf people.
After seeing the new ASLV, one Deaf person told Etinger: “God does get me. … God signs my sign language.”
It has also jumpstarted additional sign language translations. Deaf translators in Colombia are already using the ASLV to begin translating the Bible into Colombian Sign Language.