It was only in the 1960 or 70s that sign language was recognised as a language. By anyone.
Deaf people thought they communicated in an inferior way, that wasn’t really ‘proper’ language, just gestures. Hearing people were generally unaware of what was able to be communicated, and under-estimated the effectiveness of what could be relayed. Though, if you grew up in the mills, you did use sign language – you had to above the noise.
Some schools for the deaf, which were set up to teach lip reading to enable deaf people to communicate in the hearing world, banned sign language. But deaf people developed it quite naturally, but sneakily, outside the class room.
What changed in the 60s and 70s? Simple. Video recording.
It enabled signing to be slowed down, and the communication analysed, studied, and codified. Guess what? Sign wasn’t just gestures. There was sentence structure, tenses, poetry, nuances – basically every feature of grammar is there. It was a shock – and the deaf world needed as much convincing as anyone.
Being deaf means being fully fluent in the deaf world. It is not a disability, but an essential ability. We (the hearing) are disabled in the deaf world – in other words we are deaf and dumb.
Jesus did some miracles where he enabled the deaf to hear. What he did was transfer them from the deaf world to the world of the hearing. They may not have looked any different, but they now belonged to somewhere where they had been outsiders.
There is a world that is labelled the kingdom of God. You can live in it – but you need to be born again. You need to be made alive spiritually in Jesus. It’s a real world, and you enter by trusting Jesus. There’s no other key, no other door.
Of all the worlds we can inhabit, this is the true real one, from which all the others get their meaning.