Remember the film Avatar from 2009? With the blue people? Avatar made a lot of use of motion capture filming techniques, and represented a number of breakthroughs in the filmmaking industry.
WordSign, a software program that employs the same type of technology used to make Avatar, is now being developed by SIL* and will be used to create powerful visual Bibles in sign languages around the world.
There are over 400 sign languages worldwide, and to date there is not a single complete sign language Bible. Why do the Deaf need visual Bibles? Can’t they just read the Bible?
‘…Deaf sign language [the heart language of the Deaf] is a three dimensional language and can’t be written down on a flat piece of paper. In fact, for a Deaf person to look at that flat piece of paper, the words don’t mean much to them, but also the method of delivery is not the way they would learn.’ Mike Buus, President of DOOR*
The WordSign project has huge potential when it comes to reaching the Deaf with the gospel, allowing sign language to be imprinted onto lifelike avatars and visual Bibles to be watched on phones and tablets. Get a taste of what the visual Bibles will look like.
This technology will also make it much easier for different signers to work on sign language translations over time. In the past, sign language translation projects have been tied to one signer and vulnerable to his/her personal circumstances, stalling or going back to square one if he/she can no longer participate in the project for whatever reason.
The WordSign project means different signers can share the work, making long-term projects, corrections and revisions easy and increasing flexibility no end. The use of an avatar also means the signers’ identities will be protected in countries where Christians are persecuted. The WordSign project will also make the production of a translation cheaper and require less use of technology experts. It’s good news all round!
Want to know more? Check out this short video on the need for sign language Bible translation.
*SIL is Wycliffe’s primary partner.
*DOOR International‘s vision is to bring God’s word and biblical Christian fellowship to Deaf communities worldwide.
This post is adapted from a story by Wycliffe Australia.