Deaf Missions, a ministry dedicated to communicating “the Gospel of Jesus with Deaf people through their heart language, culture and identity,” began the project in the early 1980s.
In 2016, the mission partnered with Wycliffe USA, American Bible Society, Deaf Bible Society, Deaf Harbor, DOOR International, Pioneer Bible Translators, and Seed Company to complete the project, according to Mission Network News.
The final books needed — Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel — were completed this fall. Now, the entire Bible is available to the world’s 70 million people who are deaf for free online, through social media, and on a smartphone app. The translation was led by people who themselves are deaf and trained in the biblical languages.
“Roughly 98% of the worldwide population of Deaf people have never encountered the real Jesus,” notes the Deaf Missions website. “What is the number one issue Deaf people face when it comes to knowing Jesus? The answer boils down to two words: communication barriers.”
Deaf Missions President Chad Entinger explained to MNN in an email that the ASL Bible has garnered a “tremendous and exciting reaction from the U.S. Deaf Christian community.”
Doing sign language Bible translation with video drafts takes longer than text or printed drafts, according to Etinger, who added: “Thanks to God’s provision through the generosity of Deaf Missions donors and funding partners, we were able to overcome funding challenges and onboard more translators to accelerate completion of the Bible, thereby finishing in 2020 instead of our original projection of 2033!”
The Deaf Bible Society President J.R. Bucklew previously told The Christian Post that although there are various text translations of the Bible available, some 95% of the world’s deaf population is functionally illiterate. And only 20 of the world’s 400 sign languages have some form of Bible content available.