Did You Know?
Q. How many deaf people are there?
A. There are an estimated 400 million deaf or hard-of-hearing people worldwide. There are 15 million in North America, 18 million in South America, and 1.4 million deaf people in Peru. Statistics can be misleading and subject to many factors. However, according to various sources, there is about a six to seven percent population of deaf/hard-of-hearing in westernized countries and up to a ten percent population in some third world countries.
Q. So, Deaf people automatically go to heaven, right?
A. No. Deaf people do not lack the capacity to understand Biblical concepts of right and wrong, Heaven and Hell, sin and righteousness and so on. You see, it is not a lack of mental ability or capacity; it is a lack of opportunity to “hear” about salvation and God’s wonderful gift of His Son. Deaf people have the same problem that we do: sin. God makes specific mention of the deaf several times in Scripture, but there is no place where He exempts them from having to trust Christ.
Q. Isn’t the deaf ministry just for ladies?
A. While dedicated Christian ladies are needed to work with the deaf and are greatly appreciated, the deaf ministry is definitely not “women’s work”. In fact, that would be a highly condescending and offensive mindset to deaf people anywhere. There is a great need for dedicated preachers, evangelists, teachers and interpreters for the Deaf. Working with deaf people has its own unique set of challenges and difficulties just like any ministry and needs dedicated men and women of God to meet those challenges.
Q. Is Sign Language Universal?
A. No. Every country has their own distinct sign language. While many of these may be similar to another country's sign language, most are not so. For example, there is very little similarity between American Sign Language and English Sign Language, yet they both speak basically the same language - English. A country’s sign language is not based on the spoken language of that country. Thus you will notice that most Spanish speaking countries have their own distinct Sign Language.
Q. Isn’t Sign Language just really gestures and pantomime?
A. No. a country’s sign language is a very distinct and functional concept-transmitting system with its own syntax, rules of grammar and structure. Where hearing people transmit our concepts through organized sounds and symbols which represent those sounds; deaf people transmit concepts through visual gestures, expressions, hand shapes and positions, and spacing and velocity of movement. All of the structures which make up an advanced language system, are present in Sign Language.