Deaf population in Russia: ≈ 200,000
Status of translation team: active team, consisting of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing members
Long term plans: NT
Current work: Gospel of Mark
Plans for 2020: translating Mk 12-16; creating illustrations for the videos; producing 18 video clips for Mk 12-16 with subtitles; publication on YouTube; creating glossary entries and commentaries for Mk 12-16 and publishing it on YouTube and in the App with video translation (Google Play).
The project and its target audience: According to one authoritative estimate, there are up to 200,000 people in Russia who cannot hear and up to 13 million who are hard of hearing. The latter are either Russian speakers or bilingual (that is, they speak both Russian and RSL), but for the part of the population that is completely deaf from birth, the Russian language is not their mother tongue. In fact, Russian is a separate subject of study for them, similar to a foreign language. In their everyday life these people use RSL as their natural language. Reading the Bible in Russian causes significant difficulties for this group, and there is still no Orthodox Church translation of even a single book of the Bible into RSL. So it is no wonder that the majority of deaf people are far from the Russian Orthodox Church, or from any Christian confession, for that matter. The highly professional translation of the Bible into RSL that we are aiming at will help deaf people to study the Bible independently, and would be acceptable for an Orthodox audience. It would also provide a tool for catechetical instruction of deaf people by Orthodox missionaries. Thus, besides deaf and hard of hearing RSL speakers, our target audience includes Orthodox clergy and sign language teachers and interpreters, Sunday school teachers and catechesis instructors, lay sign language teachers and interpreters, students of RSL, special-needs experts and linguists, and hearing members of families with deaf people.
IBT work: In 2017 IBT initiated the translation of the Gospel of Mark into RSL for use by the Russian Orthodox Church. After careful linguistic and sociolinguistic research, a translation brief (description of the project) was developed. A translation team was formed, consisting of experienced deaf and hard of hearing sign language interpreters. A hearing exegetical advisor with good knowledge of NT Greek and RSL joined the project. We have also found a field tester – a deaf woman who is a professional linguist with a lot of experience researching the signs that are used by RSL speakers in different regions.
In September 2018, on the International Day of the Deaf, IBT launched an online App Gospel of Mark in Russian sign language. The App can be downloaded from Google Play and App Store. Thanks to this App, any Deaf person, for whom the Russian Sign Language is native, can always have and study the Gospel in their mother tongue in their smartphone or tablet.
In 2019, five chapters (7-11) and 43 dictionary entries for these chapters were translated and published. In December 2019, in St. Alexander Nevsky Church in Moscow, an extensive testing of new dictionary entries of the biblical video dictionary in RSL, created simultaneously with the Bible translation project, was conducted with the participation of respondents from Moscow and the Moscow region ROC parishes.
In 2020 due to the covid-19 quarantine the team has managed to translate and field test chapters 12 & 13 of Mark by Internet, and the team members have learned to work together by Zoom. This experience will be very useful even after the quarantine measures are over. The translator has produced illustrations to chapter 12. Now the translation of chapter 14 and corresponding dictionary entries and commentaries is currently underway.
IBT is working in close partnership with the Desnitsa Centre at one of the Moscow Orthodox churches that specializes in working with deaf and hard of hearing people, with the Coordination Center for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing at the Orthodox Church’s Synodal Department for Charity and Social Service, and with the Russian Society of the Deaf.
Your donation will help the Russian Sign Language Bible translation project to be continued in 2020.