Introduction / History
In Bangladesh, the people who use sign language as their primary means of communication are an unreached people group using the Bangla dialect of the Bengali Sign Language.
Where Are they Located?
During India's partition in 1947, Hindus moved west to what is now the Indian state of West Bengal and Muslims living in the west moved east to the region that became Bangladesh. Over time the two groups have developed separate dialects, the West Bengal Sign Language (WBSL) in West Bengal and the Bangla Sign Language (BaSL) in Bangladesh. Previously it has been thought that the Deaf in this region use Indian Sign Language (ISL). However, current research the great majority of the Deaf do not know ISL but use Bengali Sign Language and that it is a different language from ISL.
Greater concentrations of Deaf occur in the larger cities that have more resources for them. Deaf people who know sign language generally interact with other Deaf in many different groups, clubs, schools etc. Most members of the Deaf community, however, are not aware of how many deaf are isolated to their own neighborhood or home and have yet to learn BaSL.
What Are Their Needs?
The needs among the 1.5 million Bangladeshi deaf include the 99.9% who don't know the Lord, the 100% without a Bible in their mother-tongue, the 97% who could not understand a Bible even if they had one because they don't know BaSL, the 99.5% without any education, and the 40% unemployed. These factors make the Bangladeshi Deaf an oppressed and to varying levels, depressed people group.
Many Deaf are receptive to the gospel's hope and love message. However the risk of converting is subject to intense pressure from their hearing families to keep the "traditional" religious values.
* Pray for the 1.5 million Bangladeshi Deaf , for the 97% of the Deaf who have no language and the 98.8% that have no education, for the 20 - 30% unemployed among the educated Deaf and an unknown much higher number of unemployed among the uneducated and home-bound Deaf.
* Pray for the Bangladesh Government to establish more schools for the Deaf.
* Pray for workers among the Deaf to learn sign language.
* Pray for resources for the Deaf and a Bible in their own language
* Pray for awareness of the Deaf to recognize and include Deaf as unreached people groups and to advocate for the Deaf