A new visual device has the potential to provide Bible access to Deaf communities worldwide. MegaVoice Envision is a video-playing apparatus designed to provide a Bible in sign language, bringing the message of God to many unreached people groups.
Developed by MegaVoice, the organisation behind the Solar Audio Bible, this project will be a huge support to global gospel ministry.
The World Health Organisation estimates there are 466 million people globally with significant hearing loss or deafness. The Deaf community currently does not have a complete Bible in sign. There are over 400 different sign languages used by more than 70 million Deaf people as their primary means of communication, yet only 5 per cent of sign languages have a Bible translation work started.
Careful consideration has gone into the creation of Envision to ensure that it has a screen big enough to be easily viewed, light enough to be transported, and the ability to play sound loud enough to fill an entire room.
With rural and remote communities in mind, the device plays videos from microSD cards – meaning it can be used in areas where internet access is limited or non-existent. Its battery lasts from two to five hours, so when power is scarce the word of God can still be played.
“Lots of people don’t have power but, no matter where you are in the world, you can sit and watch whatever you can get a hold of in microSD card form,” says Tom Treseder, president of MegaVoice. “There is potential to reach enormous numbers of people who have never been reached with the good news.”
The idea for the MegaVoice Envision first came to Mr Treseder over 30 years ago, but it wasn’t until a trip to Samoa in 2011 that he saw the real difference it could make. The Pacific Islands have among the highest rates of ear disease and hearing loss in the world, with almost 17 per cent of children suffering hearing loss.
“We went to a church and a lady signed the whole service – hymns, prayers, Bible reading,” Mr Treseder says. “We showed her the MegaVoice Bible and she said, ‘That’s wonderful, but I need it with a screen. What you don’t know is in the front two rows are 32 people who are deaf.’”
While the Envision was primarily intended to aid Deaf communities, the national director of MegaVoice, Greg Low, believes the impact can be far greater: there is interest from missionaries and educators in Africa who are working in areas with limited resources and accessibility.
“As the player gets seen, people get excited,” he says. “I don’t think we’ve scratched the tip of the iceberg as to where this could go.”
With the first shipment of 1000 devices already sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the next delivery to be shipped after Easter, the MegaVoice team is praying for more of the Bible to be interpreted.
“We’ve provided the tool for people, but we need it to be recorded,” Mr Low says. “We pray that more of the Auslan Bible is recorded, so that access to God’s word is opened up for the Deaf.
“We need God to enable people to see the potential of using the MegaVoice Envision to reach the Deaf. For far too long, they’ve been a marginalised group. Pray that as a society we can bring the Deaf and hearing impaired into our community.”