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Swiss evangelicals release new online Bible dictionary for the deaf

The Christian Deaf Community Switzerland, along with Wycliffe Bible Translators, presented sign language terms for all the books of the Bible.

FUENTES AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus 04 DE ENERO DE 2024 14:40 h
The presentation of the project. / [link]CGG Switzerland[/link]

A sign language dictionary for biblical books and many Christian terms in Swiss German Sign Language (DSGS). has been made available online, for the around 10,000 deaf people in Switzerland.

"For deaf Christians and users of the DSGS, words from the Christian vocabulary are always missing", said project manager Regula Herrsche, who is deaf herself and a member of the Christian Deaf Community Switzerland (CGG Switzerland).

The community, founded in 1991 in Winterthur and active at various locations in German-speaking Switzerland, has been developing an online lexicon for its sign language courses in free churches and also for internal use since 2013.

The work was repeatedly paused because everything was done on a voluntary basis, until the beginning of 2020, when Wycliffe Switzerland contacted CGG Switzerland to enquire about Christian sign language work in German-speaking Switzerland.

Wycliffe then looked for an employee who was willing to get involved in the sign language work of CGG Switzerland, and hired Andy Huber, who had previously worked as a translation consultant for Wycliffe in Tanzania.


Signs for all biblical books

At the end of 2021, a working group started “Subproject 1”, which was primarily about finding signs for all biblical books.

The group consists of five deaf volunteers and two hearing counselors with theological training that have regular monthly Zoom meetings. An extended group responsible for feedback and approving the terms met twice on site in Aarau to exchange ideas.

The result of two years of work was recently presented. In addition to sign language terms for the 66 books of the Bible as well as various Christian terms, around 50 smaller videos were also created that explain the background to the choice of the sign language term. The whole thing was financed by donations.


Long-term work

“The work of creating a biblical lexicon in sign language is far from complete and is actually a permanent goal, because sign language is also changing. Our long-term wish is to translate Bible texts into DSGS up to and including an entire Bible book such as the Gospel of Luke", pointed out Herrsche.

The volunteer team is now working on the next phase, which will run for another three years and will also be supported entirely by donations.

You can see the dictionary here (in German)


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