The Bible Society Australia has launched new translations of the Bible in sign language, called Auslan. John’s Gospel, a revised version of Acts and selections from Paul’s letters are now available in digital format for free.

The Auslan Bible Project started 22 years ago and in 1999, the organization launched the first two books of the Bible in Auslan—Ruth and Jonah. Through the years, the Bible Society released translated portions of the Bible, including Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and the full book of Luke and John, reports Eternity News.

Having the Bible in Auslan helps me read the Bible better. —Mac Adams, a Deaf person

About 20,000 people in Australia use Auslan to communicate. Now, they can access the latest Bible translations in sign language.

“For those people, sign language is the first or only language that they know,” said Melissa Lipsett, acting CEO of Bible Society Australia.

Mac Adams, a Deaf person involved in the Auslan Bible Project, said Deaf people “think visually.” He added that, “Having the Bible in Auslan helps me read the Bible better.”

Another individual involved in the project was John Harris. He made sure that the correct signs were used in the translation of the Bible. “This is a translation. It’s not just telling Bible stories. This is a Bible; it’s the word of God.”

The United Nations said there are 72 million Deaf people in the world who use more than 300 sign languages. Ministries estimate that less than 1% of them are Christians and no one has a full Bible, reports Mission Network News.

The Deaf Bible Society coordinates with Deaf Christians worldwide to help them translate the Bible. The group believes that understanding the Bible is key to spiritual transformation. It is important for the Bible to be translated into sign language so Deaf people can understand and have a “heart level” connection with Scripture.

“We make contact with Deaf Christians in a specific country to determine their interest, their vision [and] passion, and how we can come alongside them in the task of reaching their country with the Gospel,” said Deaf Bible Society’s Mike Brabo.

He said teams are created to help in the Bible translation and allow leaders to choose their members. “Ideally, [they will be] persons who have grown up all their lives in the Deaf community and are fluent in the local sign language. Having a teachable attitude is also crucial.”

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