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Old 05-18-2009, 02:54 PM
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Greetings brethren!

Since ChaplainPaul had posted a thread about "Signing Bibles" - although it related to a different topic, this one has come up for me.

What do members here think about making the Word of God available to Deaf brethren? The difficulty and reality is that most Deaf people read at a third grade level. I am fortunate, having gone through most of my life able to hear and becoming deaf at an age after I had learned English grammar and speech.

I learned American Sign Language (ASL) and became a professor of it, qualified to teach it at university level, to train interpreters for the Deaf.

In thinking of making the Bible accessible to Deaf persons, how do we go about doing that? I believe the BEST solution is a KJV video Bible - making the KJV visible in Sign Language. That said, every country has its own signed language. Here is where it gets complex! Going word-by-word, carefully rendering each word into a sign is not the solution because it won't be understood by Deaf people. Native Deaf signers don't use the primary language in their country - they use the signed language that is native to their country. In the USA, that language is American Sign Language (ASL), which is the 3rd most-used language in the USA, after English & Spanish.

I would appreciate any commentary on this subject. I've seen ministers who are able to beautifully translate the MEANING of the KJV into ASL. However, I've also seen ministers who totally messed up the meaning by mistranslating.
What is the solution?

Sister Jassy
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Old 05-18-2009, 03:05 PM
peopleoftheway peopleoftheway is offline
 
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Forgive my ignorance here sister, but do deaf people read at a third grade level from not comprehending how words are formed, ie "writing it how it sounds?"
Is there no way of raising their reading level? (apart from prayer of course)
Interesting question, I look forward to the replies.
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Old 05-18-2009, 04:13 PM
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Hello Brother,

Thank you for your question. I understand that most people will not have a knowledge of this subject. I'm happy to explain.

First of all, imagine that you're placed into a soundproof glass booth. All of the speakers outside the booth are speaking in Japanese language. You don't know the Japanese language. And you can't hear it. OK - now how long will it take you to learn Japanese? How well will you learn it?

Did that impact you at all? Additionally, we start from the premise that you already know what a language IS - and what is expected of you. Deaf people, born deaf, have no concept of language - what it is or what it means. They just see mouths moving from an early age.

That is the main reason for Deaf people's struggle with learning language. A baby, from the womb and babyhood onward, is constantly hearing speech, even if the baby can not yet form words. A deaf baby is without such a headstart. They're many years behind, by the time they enter school and don't know language. They struggle to learn it - on top of the other things that are expected of them. Without a basis in language, how can they learn anything?

Big challenge, huh? So, the averge Deaf person won't move beyond that 3rd grade language level. I know, because I'm often asked to read letters - to correct grammatical and spelling errors. I'm often asked to translate a letter or document into ASL.

I'm not saying that Deaf people are stupid! Far from it! They can readily grasp concepts and ideas, just as people who can hear do, as long as it is in their visual language.

Most Deaf people would not be able to grasp the KJV/AV in written format, just as they often cannot grasp other things in written format.

Does this help to explain?

Jassy
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Old 05-18-2009, 06:56 PM
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Jassy, it is evident that you are an expert in this area. The concern that I have is that from what I understand, the vocabulary of ASL is not robust enough to cover all of the details of Biblical English.

[Both of my daughters have learned some ASL. My oldest has been training for a number of years so that she can interpret during church services.]

What has been the traditional method used for Bible reading over the years? I cannot begin to understand the difficulties involved, but it would seem to me that since this is not a new problem, others have certainly faced the issue. What is the consensus, if any, of those who ,like you, are intimately involved?
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Old 05-18-2009, 10:29 PM
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Brother Tim,

Your response was excellent and very well thought-out. It gives me food for thought.

ASL is a rich and full language with the capability of providing subtle nuances, just as the English language does. Like any language, it is also dynamic and changes with time.

I don't want people looking down at Deaf people as if they're not capable of understanding complex ideas. To the contrary, at times, the richness of ASL far surpasses the limitations and capabilities of the English language.

I really don't know what the answer to this is. I haven't been involved in interpreting myself, since I am Deaf. Nor have I been involved in preaching or teaching the Bible. So, I can't pretend that I'm qualified to know the answer. I would say that this would require a pastor with a very in-depth knowledge of the KJV and the capability to bring that forth in ASL.

Why not ask your daughters for their opinions?

One thing I have noticed, when a church tries to establish a "Deaf Program" they bring the level down to something so simplistic that it doesn't create any growth in grace and knowledge of the Word. It's something that definitely needs to be changed somehow. Many Deaf people are using a very simplistic Bible translation and they're relying on their minister to teach them from the Bible. That minister is either Deaf and signing directly to them in ASL, or hearing and utilizing a sign language interpreter. In the first case, it requires a minister who has an in-depth knowledge of the KJV, to be capable of both understanding and expressing the true meaning of it in ASL. We certainly don't want to see a perverted Bible being used. Nor do we want to see an unknowledgeable interpreter who may translate a Scripture according to a more simplistic Bible version that she is familiar with. Either way, the Deaf churchgoer is often lacking in Bible knowledge.

I've wanted to work on having the KJV translated accurately into ASL. That would be quite a project undertaking! I don't feel qualified to do that myself.

Jassy
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Old 05-19-2009, 07:45 AM
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Thanks, Jassy, for the response. My daughter who is skilled also lives in a distant town. Getting answers back from her has delays due to limited contact. [read: she doesn't "get around to" checking her email or voice mail] My wife and I generally have to send a special envoy with an engraved request for a call back. [I am picking on her here... full satire mode]

Since it will be the end of the millennium before she answers my email, perhaps you could tell me if there is a distinguishing difference between singular and plural pronouns. That is, signs that would accurately distinguish between "thou" (singular subjective case) and "ye" (plural subjective case)?
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Old 05-19-2009, 09:17 AM
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Jassy, take a look at this thread and tell us what you think. If Barry (FSSL) said that it was raining outside, I would look out the window to verify it (he is sometimes right), so I would like your take on the posts there. Thanks.
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Old 05-19-2009, 10:53 AM
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P.S. If you go to FFF, you can ignore Barry's routine swipe at the KJB. He could have just as easily used any English Bible. They all basically have the same sentence structure.
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brother Tim View Post
Thanks, Jassy, for the response. My daughter who is skilled also lives in a distant town. Getting answers back from her has delays due to limited contact. [read: she doesn't "get around to" checking her email or voice mail] My wife and I generally have to send a special envoy with an engraved request for a call back. [I am picking on her here... full satire mode]

Since it will be the end of the millennium before she answers my email, perhaps you could tell me if there is a distinguishing difference between singular and plural pronouns. That is, signs that would accurately distinguish between "thou" (singular subjective case) and "ye" (plural subjective case)?
Brother Tim,

Your daughter sounds like most busy people today.

Yes, there are differentiations between singular and plural pronouns. It is in the movement. The handshape for both would be a "closed 'B' or '4' hand - palm turned upward" and for thou it would point in one exclusive "pointing" direction - and for "ye" it would be more of an inclusive sweeping motion.

However, these would be for American Sign Language. I don't know where you live - so I can't generalize for other signed languages.

Jassy
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brother Tim View Post
Jassy, take a look at this thread and tell us what you think. If Barry (FSSL) said that it was raining outside, I would look out the window to verify it (he is sometimes right), so I would like your take on the posts there. Thanks.
Brother Tim,

Barry sounds like most people who happen to have a relative that "signs." He appoints himself an "expert" by virtue of some relative that "signs." You, at least, admitted not knowing and having a difficulty in asking and awaiting a response from your daughter.

Barry is speaking of "sign language." I have been speaking, specifically, of American Sign Language (ASL) which is a very complex language capable of expressing many nuances in language. Barry's relatives that know "sign language" might know a little "signing" and, therefore, be incapable of the complex depth of the KJV. It takes a deeper understanding of the Bible to express the KJV, as opposed to some weaker, watered-down, and perverted version of the Bible.

There have been numerous occasions when I have visited a church with a hearing friend and been excitedly informed by someone at the church: "Oh!! We have a lady that signs! She will interpret for you!!" They go grab the lady and haul her over, and she - with excruciating slowness - "signs" often using WRONG signs in English word order. Because she is so slow, a sign is missing here and there, and the interpretation thus makes no sense. I try to string it all together... but I'm being very misled by her "signing" skills (very basic, with a lot of fingerspelling of unknown signs).

Bless someone's heart, that they attempt to include me, but when someone says they can "sign" or "know sign language" - it is often the case that they don't know ASL.

I have seen jaw-dropping astonishment when I have translated a scripture from the KJV for a Deaf friend, and it was opposed to what they were taught from some simplistic Bible version. On the other hand I've seen a shrugging indifference to TRUTH from many Deaf people who aren't being told that truth due to these "new age" Bibles that twist Scriptures. They would rather stick to "what my pastor told me" - than to know the truth from the KJV.

It takes dedication and a deep desire for truth to be, initially, patient with the KJV. It also requires the Holy Spirit. Some people have neither and turn to the easiest new age Bible translations, as a result.

Jassy
 

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