Help From Half a World Away!

ELAN* software with a comment from Dad showing some missing verses

* “ELAN is a professional tool for the creation of complex annotations on video and audio resources.”

ELAN help from Dad,

who is “retired,” yet making a significant difference in the JSL Bible translation project


There are 12 steps* in creating the Japanese Sign Language Bible translation DVDs.  One of these includes using ELAN (software to annotate video) to mark where verses change on our translation video.  It is a tedious job, but crucial for giving those checking the translation a framework to add their comments.

A rough and dirty explanation is that someone knowledgable in JSL, and hopefully with a meticulous and long suffering nature, watches the first draft video clips (over and over at times), compares this with verses in a written Bible, and marks in ELAN where one verse ends and another begins.

Ms. Hagiwara had been doing this job, but as you know she quit the end of March.  We are praying for her replacement. God sent someone who fit the bill, or should I say, God allowed us to see someone He had already gifted for this job.  Mark’s dad!  Jim Penner worked in JSL for years, loves the Scriptures, is very good at computers and learning new software, and has been wishing he could do more to help. More than all that, he has a servant’s heart willing to put in hours of grunt work behind the scenes to get the job done.

God supplies in the most amazing ways!
For technology that allows people to work from all around the world.

For Dad as he does a tiring and exacting job.
For work on Exodus 14-40.


1-Research:  Using original language texts; background materials and other resources, we first gain a clear image of the message.

2-Portrayal:  We portray that image in JSL (Japanese Sign Language.)

3-Accuracy check: We check the draft version for accuracy and signing quality.

4- Corrections:  We make corrections, re-check and continue the process until we have a good translation.

5-Comprehension check:  Non-Christian Deaf people view the translation and tell us what we are actually communicating, and Christian Deaf people give input on acceptability.  

6- More Corrections:  Based off this input, we make further changes.

7- Practice:  We practice for the recording session.

8- Setup: We adjust lighting, set camera angles, and make sure everything is ready for recording day. 

9- Recording: We record (and pray!)  As we record, we check for errors or unnatural signing, re-record any problematic sections.

10- Post-production:   We edit the good takes together, insert the verse references, captions and other graphics, and make the DVD master copy.

11-Final check:  We do one last check to ensure that signing, graphics, and DVD performance are ready.

12-Published!  The JSL Bible is now available on DVD, internet and smartphone.




About Mark and Mary Esther Penner

Mark works as an adviser and resource to a Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project that plays a key role in the worldwide sign language Bible translation movement. Mary Esther founded a non-profit organization that partners with local communities and organizations to collect, refurbish and send wheelchairs throughout Asia.
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