Video translated into sign language

30-minute film helps deaf newcomers understand Mennonites

Feb 19, 2014 by and

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HARRISONBURG, Va. and ELKHART, Ind. — Five Core Media, a video production firm in Goshen, Ind., has produced an American Sign Language version of Who Are the Mennonites?, a DVD/video produced by a predecessor agency of MennoMedia and sent to Mennonite Church USA congregations in 2010.

Jeffrey Hoffer, left, Debbie Gessinger and David Martin prepare to be taped for the newly translated Who Are the Mennonites? video. — Photo provided by Mennonite Church USA and MennoMedia

Jeffrey Hoffer, left, Debbie Gessinger and David Martin prepare to be taped for the newly translated Who Are the Mennonites? video. — Photo provided by Mennonite Church USA and MennoMedia

Five Core Media worked with a translation team organized by Sheila S. Yoder, a longtime deaf ministries advocate.

The hosts and translation team were composed of three deaf people: Debbie Gessinger, a Goshen College assistant professor of ASL; Jeffrey Hoffer, former pastor of First Deaf Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pa.; and David Martin, assistant professor and program manager for ASL Studies at Frederick (Md.) Community College.

Yoder explained there were challenges in providing a visual translation for a product that was originally produced using both audio and visual media.

“The original piece was created for people who use spoken English (ears) and their vision (eyes) at the same time. This means pictures and the spoken English voiceover occurred simultaneously on the screen,” Yoder noted.

A production targeted for ASL users would have initially been designed quite differently.

“As a team we decided to keep the basic structure of the original piece,” she said. “So we have translators signing on screen, and then we switch to visual segments of the original video, some of which had to be edited or shortened because of the length this technique adds to the production.”

Other changes to the original included condensing the section on the role of music in Mennonite churches.

The ASL video is available online at mennoniteusa.org and YouTube. DVDs have already been provided to the three Mennonite deaf ministries in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Indiana.

Yoder works for Mennonite Mission Network as a church relations associate. She is also coordinator of deaf ministries for College Mennonite Church in Goshen. Earlier she served as director of deaf ministries for Mennonite Board of Missions from 1984 to 1990.


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