DOT began when a deaf person and two sign language teachers showed up at a MAST event in Gabon and said that they wanted a Bible for the deaf. The facilitators tried to make it happen by using the MAST steps and capturing the results on video using iPhones.

This event led Wycliffe Associates to take a closer look at the global deaf community. We now know that taken as a whole, the deaf community is the largest unreached people group in the world. Sign language is not universal. There are over 430 different known sign languages world-wide.

In January 2017, there was a DOT event in Paraguay with teams of deaf translators from seven South American countries. Six of these countries were Spanish speaking countries and each one had a unique sign language that could not be understood by the deaf from the other countries.

Deaf and literacy – One common question about deaf translation is why the deaf can’t just read the written translations in their country. The grammar and structure of sign languages is very different from spoken and written languages. Sign language is not a signed version of the spoken language of a country. This means that for a deaf person to read, they first have to learn a completely different language, and it’s a language that they can never hear. Most people learn to read phonetically, by associating the letters they see with sounds, but the deaf do not have this option. Since the deaf have the above disadvantages when it comes to literacy and education, many cultures struggle with knowing how to educate the deaf, or even incorporate them into regular society. The result of this is that much of the world’s deaf population are highly marginalized and ignored.

One common misconception about translation for the deaf is that we translate into braille, but braille is a writing system for the blind, and has no specific advantage for deaf. With the reali-zation of how great the need was for sign language Bibles, the DOT Program was made. Our goal is to train and equip the deaf communities around the world to translate the Bible into their heart language.

As of July 2018, using DOT methodology, a team in India has completed the New Testament in Marathi Sign Language!


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