The Book of Mormon in American Sign Language is now available for members of the Church who are hearing-impaired.
According to a May 10, 1995, letter from the First Presidency to General Authorities and local priesthood leaders, the first two of the projected 11 videotapes of the Book of Mormon in American Sign Language are now available at the Salt Lake Distribution Center and may be ordered through ward or branch leaders. The first two videotapes include the introduction to the Book of Mormon and 1 Nephi 1-22."We encourage members who will benefit from the use of the American Sign Language videotapes of the Book of Mormon to obtain their copies of the scriptures and to use them in regular personal and family study and in Church meetings and assignments as appropriate," the First Presidency wrote.
"As members prayerfully learn and teach from the scriptures, their testimonies will grow, their knowledge will increase, their love of family and others will expand, their ability to serve others will enlarge, and they will receive greater strength to resist temptation and defend truth and righteousness."
Doug Hind, manager of special curriculum in the Church's Curriculum Department, told the Church News that the process of translating the Book of Mormon into American Sign Language began about six years ago. "We anticipate the whole Book of Mormon to be completed in 1998," he added.
Two LDS women are used as translators on the videotapes, Brother Hind explained. One translates the text of the Book of Mormon and the other translates the chapter headings. For words that are particular to the Book of Mormon, translators first spell out the words and then give the sign for the words. After the initial use of a word, just the sign is given.
In speaking of the benefits of the translation for those who are hearing impaired, Brother Hind said, "For those who use sign language – or ASL, it will be just like a Russian or German having the opportunity to read the Book of Mormon in their tongue."
Brother Hind, who served his full-time mission among the hearing-impaired in the Los Angeles area, added, "I can recall myself being a missionary to those who are hearing impaired and wishing I had the Book of Mormon in sign language instead of trying to read the English version and then explain to the deaf person as best I could."
He added that being able to leave copies of the videotapes with those who are hearing-impaired will be a great blessing and help to missionaries as they introduce the Book of Mormon to non-members.
Concerning the effect the Book of Mormon in American Sign Language is already having, Brother Hind related: "I have a secretary with a daughter who is deaf and also has cerebral palsy. I gave a copy of a videotape to my secretary. She took it home, and she later told me she couldn't get her daughter to go to bed that night. She watched and watched and smiled from ear to ear because she could understand it. She was moved by the Spirit."
The cost of copies of the videotapes of the Book of Mormon in American Sign Language is $4 each. The product numbers for the first two videotapes are 73001 010 and 73002 010.