In Everybody’s Language

2017. augusztus 04., péntek

The Immanuel House in Debrecen is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in a special way: on June 8, an ecumenical, easy-to-understand Bible was presented specifically for disabled people. We talked with Zsófia Győri, Director of the Immanuel House of the Reformed Great Church in Debrecen, about the publication.

In the Immanuel House, through easy-to-understand communications, people with disabilities can learn about laws that concern them, or the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the home school and the institution's own rules. "The most important rules, such as ‘The girls get priority,’ or, ‘I am kind,’ are the things that we want to teach them," said Zsófia Győri. It was because of this habit that they created the easy-to-understand Bible.

The Immanuel House has provided holistic services – like educational, social, and health-related – for disabled children and young people since 1991.

"We think of this publication as a sort of Bible translation. We have come to the conclusion that even though the Bible has been translated into a number of languages, these messages are not always available to people with disabilities, "said Zsófia Győri. She added that, “It is important that the Bible is available for everyone, and that they can understand it."

Each spread of the publication has two parts – one page of the spread contains a picture and an easy-to-understand sentence, and on the page other side there is the original biblical phrase. The first sentence of the book reads, "God made everything and made everything good." After that, positive messages can be read about love, forgiveness, comfort, and grace. The only negative language used in the book is a part about avoiding evil, but everything else is written with positive wording.

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation has strengthened the idea of having biblical publications that are understandable to those who have difficulties with reading, writing, and understanding. "Easy-to-understand communication" makes it accessible through simple words, and pictures, without changing its content. By this method, the authors of the publication chose 30 thoughts from the Bible, taking great care to not change their original messages. The publication of the Bible was supported by the Hungarian government’s Reformation Memorial Committee.

The Bible's teachings appear with simple symbols and graphics along with images of a variety of people, including those with Down syndrome, children who are in a wheelchair, and adult figures. "Experts, who are also disabled, reviewed all of the images and phrases and there were many situations where the graphic artist had to redraw the pictures," she explained, "But they did it with humbleness because they did not want to be ‘smarter than’ the disabled people we are targeting with this Bible.”

Zsófia Győri also said that the easy-to-understand aspect is new in Hungary. In Hungary, no such Bible has ever been made before, but the employees of the Immanuel House have not heard of similar efforts from other countries. "The easy-to-understand communication is a special method that is needed because people with mental disabilities have a different way of  thinking and they need a different language. In this Bible, the symbols help," said the Director of the institution.

It is also important for the students of the Immanuel Home to participate in the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, so it is a great pleasure for the employees that the easy-to-understand publication is finished. “We have to teach everybody on their own level, and this Bible helps to achieve this idea," pointed out Zsófia Győri.

Article by Zsuzsanna Farkas

Translated by Viktória Fülöp

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