FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—On November 14, 2014, Jehovah’s Witnesses began relocating their American Sign Language (ASL) translation team to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from the Watchtower Educational Center in Patterson, New York. The Witnesses have been translating the Bible and their Bible-based publications into ASL from their Patterson facility since 1995. For the past few months, the Witnesses have been retrofitting the Fort Lauderdale property with new offices and recording studios. As of May 2015, the Witnesses’ ASL translation office has been fully operational.
The Witnesses make their ASL videos available online at jw.org and on DVD. They also regularly incorporate them into weekly meetings held in over 500 congregations worldwide as well as events held in large venues, including biannual assemblies and annual regional conventions.
“Our goal is to ensure that our videos are easily understood by the majority of ASL users, regardless of their country of origin or educational background,” states Jonathan Galvez, who coordinates the Witnesses’ ASL translation team in Florida. He continues: “There are some 45 countries where ASL is used and, as is the case with spoken languages, deaf people have regional accents when signing. Now that our operations have moved to Fort Lauderdale, our translators are immersed in a city with a larger and more diverse population of international ASL users.”
In 2014, Frank Bechter, who has a doctorate in sociocultural and linguistic anthropology, attended an ASL regional convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Richmond, Virginia, as part of his linguistic and anthropological research concerning sign language and the deaf community. Dr. Bechter comments, “Your organization’s dedication to quality ASL translation and presentation indeed seemed quite clear at the Richmond event, particularly because of the repeated use of your well-prepared video translations of Bible verses. I found the ASL in them to be superb.” He continues, “I do appreciate the Witnesses’ efforts in translating the Bible so well into ASL, because it is a very important document in our society and in the history of the world. And I believe that deaf people should, like anyone, have good access to the important documents that have shaped the world.”
Translation teams of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the globe have produced and distributed numerous video publications in some 80 sign languages free of charge. Jehovah’s Witnesses have also produced the JW Library Sign Language app that allows users to easily download, organize, and play sign-language videos from jw.org.
International: J. R. Brown, Office of Public Information, tel. +1 718 560 5000