FEBRUARY 13, 2019
In January 2019, the museum exhibits at world headquarters were officially made available in American Sign Language (ASL). Enrique Ford, who oversees the Museum Department, explains: “The translation and computer programming effort that went into making the museum content available to the ASL community was extraordinary! Now deaf and hard-of-hearing brothers and sisters who visit our exhibits can have an immersive, engaging, and educational experience when they tour.”
Ana Barrios, who is deaf and serves as a regular pioneer in New York, was among the first to tour the exhibits in ASL. She commented: “Getting the device with ASL content was thrilling! Although I had been to the museum before and was familiar with the layout, the information had not yet touched my heart because I didn’t fully understand the details from just reading the English captions. After watching a few tracks in ASL, I started to get a sense of Jehovah’s name in a way that I never had before. The exhibit highlighted aspects of Jehovah’s personality that stirred emotions in me to the point of tears!”
The ASL project began in June 2017. A total of 23 brothers and sisters, including 6 deaf and 6 hearing publishers who grew up with deaf parents, helped with the translation and production of the museum content into ASL. The translation group filmed over 900 videos, about nine hours of content, to match the museum audio tracks. Recording sessions for the ASL tour information were conducted in three studio locations: the ASL remote translation office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; the United States branch facilities in Wallkill, New York; and the world headquarters offices in Warwick, New York. Before releasing the final version of the ASL museum content, deaf brothers and sisters of different ages and backgrounds tested and helped refine the translation and tour experience.
The Museum Department purchased touch-screen devices that can display the ASL tour content in a similar format to the standard audio tour devices used for the Warwick museum exhibitions. The Museum Department also enabled the existing 14 touch screens in the exhibits to accommodate ASL videos.
Mark Sanderson, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, states: “The purpose of the Warwick museum is to encourage and build up the faith of all who visit world headquarters. We’re excited to have the museum exhibit content available in 14 languages, including ASL for visiting deaf and hard-of-hearing brothers and sisters and non-Witnesses alike.”
To date, over half a million visitors have toured Warwick. The worldwide brotherhood is invited to come and see firsthand the museum exhibits and learn more about the rich spiritual heritage of Jehovah’s Witnesses. All who do so will be encouraged to continue to “put their confidence in God.”—Psalm 78:7.
In preparation for the unveiling of the museum content in ASL, a brother reviews a video file in a temporary studio set up at world headquarters in Warwick, New York.
Three hearing children whose parents are deaf publishers watch the ASL translation of a Bible sound drama from 1977 entitled “Jehovah’s Name to Be Declared in All the Earth.”
A group of brothers and sisters tours “The Bible and the Divine Name” exhibit with touch-screen devices.
Visitors view an ASL video on one of the touch screens in the exhibit “A People for Jehovah’s Name.”
A tour group views ASL content at a display of some 500 slides that comprised the “Photo-Drama of Creation.”