Training & resources for Deaf Bible translation & engagement

For 70 million people, sign language is their heart language.
There are more than 400 unique sign languages in the world.
95% of these sign languages have NO Bible translation.
Learn More

The need for sign language Bible translation is urgent. Written translations for spoken languages do not provide the Deaf with meaningful access to the Scriptures in their heart language. In response to this great need, the movement for sign language Bible translation has been growing extensively.

Deaf translators are faced with a unique set of challenges as they seek the training and resources necessary to carry out their work. First, it is difficult for Deaf translators to access the information taught in a traditional classroom designed for hearing students. While an interpreter can be utilized to convey course material, this creates an artificial communication environment that often leads to gaps in understanding and isolation of the Deaf student. In some cases, the method of education excludes Deaf students even when an interpreter is present.

Second, Deaf translators are challenged to find educational content and resources that address the unique needs of sign language Bible translation. Because sign languages are visual languages and utilize a different mode of communication than the original spoken/written text, translators must make difficult decisions about how to fill in the visual information (such as the size and shape of objects, the layout of the scene, and even the facial expressions of the characters). Sign language Bible translators must receive special training in order to provide this visual information in a way that properly simulates reality and accurately conveys the meaning of the biblical text.

Investing in high-level training and resources for Deaf translators and consultants can have a meaningful impact on the sign language Bible translation movement and greatly improve the quality and accuracy of the translations produced. We have a significant opportunity to see the Deaf communities around the world flourish as the light of God’s Word brings hope and truth into their midst.

As part of the Whole Word Institute, CDS is particularly well-equipped to achieve these objectives due to its location in the land of the Bible. The biblical geography and historical sites as well as the plethora of museums and archaeological displays, provide an ideal environment for visual learning of the Bible. The location in Israel also provides a Hebrew immersion environment, including contact with Deaf teachers and users of Hebrew as a living language.



Adam Van Goor shares about the beginning of the CDS program from Jerusalem, and the need for source language in Deaf Bible translation.

The goal of CDS is to enhance access, understanding and application of the whole Word of God among the Deaf by  providing strategic training and resources for Deaf Bible translators together with our partners.


CDS  addresses the need for high-level training and resources which are adapted to the specific requirements of Deaf translators by:

  • Offering training taught in sign language that is tailored to the unique culture and learning style characteristic of Deaf learners, emphasizing visual access to information, group discussion, and interactive learning opportunities with instructors and fellow students
  • Equipping students with a visual picture of the land, artifacts, culture, fauna and flora of the Bible
  • Creating resources that address the unique questions raised by sign language Bible translation
  • Offering biblical Hebrew courses that utilize a methodology appropriate for Deaf students, allowing them to comprehend the written Hebrew source text through visual signs and images

Deaf Specialization for MA in Classical Hebrew & Translation Consulting

This specialization creates an avenue for Deaf students to study in our MA in Classical Hebrew & Translation Consulting. Accommodations are made so that the content can be clearly understood by Deaf students. Most of the classes will be interpreted into sign language, while some classes are taught in sign language. In addition to the immersive residential program in Jerusalem, the MA-CHT Deaf Specialization is being adapted for extension learning.

We utilize our unique location in Israel to provide an immersion environment in written Hebrew and Israeli Sign Language, which enhances the process of learning Biblical Hebrew. We employ Deaf instructors in Israel who are already experienced in teaching Hebrew to Deaf students. We also provide supplementary instruction through qualified tutors who can sign and communicate directly with Deaf students.

The MA also has an optional Deaf Specialization which includes courses in special skill sets that consultants will need for working with sign language Bible translation projects.

Signed Exegetical Resources

Contextually and linguistically accurate exegetical resources for Deaf translators & consultants, delivered using Deaf-friendly methods and media, both accelerate Deaf Bible translation and improve its quality. These resources will assist Deaf consultants and translators to better understand the original meaning of the Scriptures so that they can more clearly communicate the meaning in sign language. Illustrative media in translations will enhance understanding and enliven the Scriptures. As a result, Deaf people around the whole world will understand the Word of God in a deep and impactful way.

“In the book of Isaiah it says, ‘In that day the Deaf will hear the words of this book.’ And it’s our prayer that this will be that day.”
— Adam Van Goor אדם בן גור