Introduction / History
Deaf people in Colombia are a linguistic group, not an ethnic, racial, or tribal group. Ethnically they reflect a similar mixture to the general population: perhaps about 5% black, 20% white, and 70% mixed, and possibly 5% indigenous. There may be around 100,000 deaf people in the country (about 0.2% of the general population, roughly 3 times the percentage for the developed world) but no one knows for sure, because no government agency counts the deaf.
What are Their Lives Like?
They are found mostly in the lower socio-economic strata of society. Due to very inadequate education, many deaf are unemployed or under-employed and poor. Social pathologies of all kinds are more common among the deaf than among the general population: illiteracy, sexual abuse, divorce, teen-age pregnancy, prostitution, and homosexuality.
Very few deaf have meaningful relationships with their families, since few family members learn sign language. Especially in rural areas, many deaf are effectively household servants in their family homes.
What are Their Beliefs?
Few deaf have any active spiritual life. Churches with interpretation for the deaf are few, and deaf-led churches using sign language are even fewer. The deaf are low-hanging fruit for marginal groups. There are more deaf Jehovah’s Witnesses than deaf Evangelicals.
What are Their Needs?
Due to very low reading levels, most deaf have no access to a written Bible they can understand in Spanish, their second language. Video translation into sign language has been done for some portions, but distribution and use have proven very difficult.
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