Deaf teams encounter challenges in El Salvador

By November 26, 2021

El Salvador (MNN) — Deaf teams are back to working in person following pandemic lockdowns earlier this year. According to Wycliffe USA’s Andy Keener, Salvadoran Sign Language is much easier to understand in person.

“For Deaf people, not being face-to-face can be even harder than for hearing people,” Keener says.

“[They’ve been] looking forward to working face-to-face in the natural way that they’re used to.”

With support from Wycliffe USA and a local church, Deaf believers translate God’s Word into their native sign language. More about that here. The team has completed 38 passages so far, and they’re hoping to finish sections from the New Testament this year.

Progress is slow because the team has little access to translation consultants.

“There’s always a lack of specialists who can come and work with them on challenging issues,” Keener says.

“[The team is] always saying, we can use more time from people who know this so that they can help us get through more translation more quickly.”

Most of the Deaf in El Salvador don’t identify with religion because they haven’t had an opportunity to learn about God.

To grow in their faith and knowledge of Jesus, they need Scripture in Salvadoran Sign Language. Pray for the health and safety of the translation team as they press forward with this vital task.

“When hearing people learn to read and write, we sound things out. Deaf people, typically, are not learning to speak as a child because they don’t hear things. When reading is presented to them, it’s a language they don’t understand,” Keener says.

“The first language Deaf people wrap their minds around is sign language. They tend to be much more comfortable in the sign language that is their heart language.”



More than 45-percent of El Salvador’s population identifies as Roman Catholic. However, many Deaf people do not associate themselves with a religion.   (Photo courtesy of Mauricio Cuéllar/Unsplash