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April 3, 2003

First 'visual Bible' for SA on the cards

From: SABC News, South Africa - Apr 3, 2003

The first "visual Bible" for the deaf in South Africa, is being compiled at the Free State University, Susan Lombaard, a linguist, said today.

Five deaf people from across the country are being used to video-record the first selected parts in South African sign language.

Lombaard, from the university's Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment, said she hoped to eventually provide the whole Bible, translated into sign language, to South Africa's more than 500 000 deaf people.

For the bible, it has been found that the majority of deaf people sign language in their mother tongue.

"Languages like English, Afrikaans and Sesotho are only their second or third languages, which makes the written Bible very inaccessible to them," Lombaard said.

"The structure of sign language, for instance syntax and time indication, differs substantially from that of other languages. They therefore often struggle to understand the Bible," she indicated.

One of the five deaf, who are now recording the new visual Bible, had never read it, because she never before understood it, Lombaard said. The group was composed to include as many dialects of South African sign language as possible. The five collaborated to translate difficult Biblical terms such as adultery, Sabbath, temptation and mercy.

"Very few interpreters can translate Bible texts, and there are only nine church congregations for the deaf in South Africa," Lombaard said.

Bible experts were re-translating the recorded texts back to English and Afrikaans, comparing it to the Hebrew and Greek texts to ensure its accuracy.

Psalm 23, Daniel 7, Exodus 20, Matthew 7, Mark 14 and Luke 11 were the first parts to be translated. - Sapa

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