SignAll removes communication barriers

By January 17, 2018

USA (MNN) — Convertible laptops and “smart home” devices topped Forbes’ recent 2018 tech trends list.  Robots, health sensors, and smart cars followed close behind.  Last week’s CES conference in Las Vegas highlighted examples from each category, along with a device called “SignAll.”

signall_motion capture

Non-manual markers, such as facial expressions, play a significant role in American Sign Language.
(Photo courtesy of SignAll)

“[Technologies like SignAll] have the opportunity to increase communication and allow Deaf people to not feel like they’re second-class citizens,” says Rob Myers, President and CEO of DOOR International.

“Whether they’re going to McDonald’s or filling up gas — or many times in church setting — they’re constantly around hearing people, and they’re constantly dealing with people who don’t know how to communicate with them.”

Approximately 1 million Deaf people live in the United States, yet there are only 15,000 certified sign language interpreters.  This equates to roughly one interpreter per 66 Deaf.

As explained here, SignAll hopes to bridge the communications gap between deaf and hearing with its automated interpreter. Similar tech developments are underway in sign language Bible translation.

“We have an awesome partner in the missions world, Deaf Bible Society, that’s been working on technological advances to see translation opportunities advance and accelerate,” shares Myers.

“Deaf people in almost any walk of life are hungry for the Gospel, and they’re hungry for God’s Word in their heart language.  The more that we can give them access to the true word of life, the more that the Deaf Christian community can grow and multiply and spread like wildfire.”

DOOR’s Deaf leaders experienced this in Ghana.

Gospel hunger in Ghana

DOOR’s Ghanaian Sign Langauge team took Scripture portions to Ghana for “community testing.” In this process, Deaf community members watch Bible portions in draft form. Team members ask how clear, accurate, natural, and acceptable they found the translation to be, and then record all responses.

Unannounced, a group of Deaf Muslim men attended the session.

“They sat in the back of the room, participated in the testing, talked about what they understood and didn’t understand,” Myers says. “When the testing was finished, they approached DOOR’s leaders as a group.”

DOOR’s leaders were intimidated, but that response quickly gave way to joy as the Muslim men began to sign.

We can’t believe what you’ve just shown us. For years and years we’ve been in the mosque and we’ve seen people pray, and the imam has gotten up to preach. But, we haven’t had access to anything that’s been going on before. 

Now, for the first time, you’re sharing with us stories about God, and we’ve never seen stories about God in our heart language. We are so excited to have access to these stories…we would love to get copies of them, and show them in the mosque to other Deaf people.

Learn more about DOOR’s work in sign language Bible translation.

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