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Another first!


"Pure joy mingled with tears of surprise and pride."

Another HIStoric event at DOOR!


Deaf sign language Bible translation consultant appointed!



DOOR International & Wycliffe Global Alliance

October 26, 2011

Nairobi, Kenya - Gwen Davies, Adm. Assistant for Signed Languages 

Pure joy mingled with tears of surprise and pride as a group of Deaf translation workers, Deaf sign language consultants-in-training, family and friends from around the world gathered at DOOR's center in Nairobi, Kenya to witness the appointment of the very first Deaf sign language Bible translation consultant! Hands waved in Deaf "applause" and feet danced in heartfelt praise to God, as Njatha Paul Ndungu, Director of DOOR Africa, was officially "knighted" as a consultant commissioned to work with sign language translation teams. 

Never before in history has a Deaf translator been recognized as a Bible translation consultant. Paul will provide a key role in the checking of sign language translations, ensuring that they convey the original meaning accurately and express it in the most natural and clear way for each Deaf language community. Until now, sign language translations have been checked by Hearing translation consultants, who have adapted their expertise from working with spoken languages and either worked through an interpreter or learned a sign language as a second language. As a Deaf consultant, Paul brings to the task what no hearing consultant can bring: a native signer's knowledge of how best to express the Scriptures visually, and an insider's knowledge of Deaf culture. Paul also has 19 years of experience serving in translation, in administration of DOOR's work in Africa, as a Bible teacher and Deaf church leader, and helping to lead a Deaf association in Kenya.

It's a dynamite combination. And Monday's ceremony was a defining moment for the work of sign language Bible translation worldwide. It came at the beginning of the first Deaf-led translation consultant development workshop being held at DOOR Africa's sign language Bible translation training center October 24 -November 5, sponsored by DOOR, the Committee of International Cooperation for Bible Translation into Sign Languages (CICBTSL), and SIL International. Sixteen consultants-in-training have come from around the world to teach and learn from each other. Four are from the Americas, two are from Europe, six are from Africa and four are from Asia. One after another, friends and colleagues stood to share how Paul had affected their lives through his leadership and teaching, and how deeply touched they were that a Deaf person would be granted recognition of expertise that previously has only been recognized in Hearing people.

Jan Zacchariassen, a Deaf pastor, translator and consultant-in-training from Denmark, wiped the tears from his eyes as he watched this inaugural event unfold.

"In this hearing world oftentimes we are told that we're incapable of achieving things or that we can't become leaders. And now finally a Deaf person has become a leader, a consultant, and it's such a rich experience to have witnessed that and to realize that God does not forget Deaf people. He has raised us up," he said.

Another translator said: "I never thought I'd see the day that a Deaf person would be named as a translation consultant. It shows the world that Deaf people can do anything hearing people can do!"

Around the room, people linked hands as Jose Abenchuchan, consultant-in-training and Director of Translation for Deaf Missions (American Sign Language translation), prayed for Paul and thanked God for opening wide a new door for Deaf who are involved in translation work.

These Deaf consultants-in-training, along with 14 others worldwide who have begun training, will soon be following in Paul's footsteps. Once the first phase of the workshop is finished, they will get to practice their skills in one of five countries-Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania-where they will work with local teams checking translations for comprehension within the Deaf community. The Scripture passages they are checking have already been checked for accuracy. The need for Deaf sign language translation consultants is great, in order to bring quality translations more quickly to the estimated 300 or more Deaf language communities still waiting for God's Word in their heart languages.

A humble man, Paul acknowledged the contributions of his wife, his colleagues, and of course his beloved God, in the string of accomplishments that led up to his being recognized as a consultant. His face mirrored the deep joy of the evening as translators and consultants-in-training congratulated Paul with fervent hugs, and then spontaneously lifted him high on their shoulders, carrying him around the room with shouts of praise!

Paul knighted 1