Convention focuses on signing the Word

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DRC file photo
David Minton/DRC file photo
An interpreter holds an attendee’s hands and signs for her during the 2012 Jehovah’s Witness American Sign Language district convention in Denton.

Jehovah’s Witnesses program ministers to those with hearing loss

About 1,800 people will converge on the Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses near Denton for a three-day program presented in American Sign Language.

The attendees and delegates have hearing impairments, and some are visually impaired as well — part of a cherished mission field of the denomination. Multiple Christian denominations have a strong and busy outreach to people with disabilities. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, though, have interpreted much of the New Testament into American Sign Language, recorded the interpretations on videos and loaded them onto the denomination’s website.

“We’re working on the Hebrew Scriptures now,” said Brian Moore, a spokesman for the local convention, which starts Friday and wraps up Sunday at the assembly hall on U.S. Highway 380, east of Denton.

Members will study the biblical theme “Keep Seeking First God’s Kingdom.” Attendees will attend presentations and dramas — both historically biblical and modern scenarios. While the Denton convention serves to guide spiritual development of those with hearing and vision losses, roughly 60,000 delegates from Hong Kong, the Philippines, South Africa, Ecuador, Chile and parts of Central America will gather in Arlington for the same convention. The Denton and California conventions are the sole events presented in sign language.

Moore said the convention is exclusively for spiritual formation.

“There aren’t any appointments at this convention,” he said.

The local gathering includes a corps of interpreters. Some will interpret presentations broadcast on giant video screens from other locations. The dramas, though, are performed in sign language. Specialized interpreters communicate the presentations to the attendees and delegates who are blind and deaf, a process that looks almost as if the interpreter was typing onto the delegate’s hand.

Moore said the deaf and hearing-impaired witnesses have gathered in the Denton assembly hall because it is outfitted with the technology needed to interpret broadcasts and to project live presentations in American Sign Language on one of two large video screens.

LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877 and via Twitter at @LBreedingDRC.



What: Jehovah’s Witnesses summer convention

When: Friday through Sunday

Where: Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 14542 W. U.S. Highway 380, west of Denton and southwest of Krum

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