For the first time, Latter-day Saints will be able to watch conference in Australian Sign Language. Here’s what one woman is looking forward to

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October 2021 general conference will be available in 98 languages over the weekend. That’s certainly an impressive number—but even more important than the numbers are the individuals whose lives are touched by having conference available in their own language.

One of those people is a Latter-day Saint named Jenny, who primarily uses Australian Sign Language (Auslan) to communicate. For the first time this weekend, general conference will be translated into Auslan, and Jenny is planning on inviting her Deaf and hard-of-hearing friends to watch the Auslan translation of conference in her home.

”When talks in Church are translated in Auslan,” Jenny told Newsroom (New Zealand), “I receive the whole message and a deeper understanding of the gospel topic. I feel the Spirit [of God] because Auslan links the words of the message with the emotion or ‘voice’ of the speaker.”

Jenny joined the Church in 1993. Four years later she served a full-time mission, but after she returned home and continued attending church on Sundays, there were no interpreters in her local congregation. Over time, some members in her ward learned some sign language and were able to help. But having conference available in Auslan is fulfilling a long-time wish for Jenny, who told Newsroom it will “help deaf people understand more, feel the Spirit, and know more about our church and our beliefs.”

According to Church News, the year 2011 marked 50 years since the Church began providing interpretation services of general conference. The first year that conference was interpreted was in 1961, and it was available in four languages: Dutch, German, Samoan, and Spanish. Fifty years later, that number reached 93 languages, with approximately 800 people working to interpret and translate conference, Newsroom reported.

This past week, Elder Brook P. Hales, General Authority Seventy and secretary to the First Presidency, spoke on the Church News podcast about how conference is available in 98 languages today and why translation is such an important effort.

“We’re always looking for more languages into which we can translate conference, because as the gospel spreads throughout the earth, we have more people who speak additional languages, and so we’re under obligation to make sure that they can hear the word of the Lord in their native tongue,” he said. “You can imagine if you . . . were to sit in a some sort of meeting with some unknown language, you would get nothing out of it; and so what good would there be in terms of developing and strengthening your faith? It’d be very difficult for you. So it’s critical and imperative that we translate general conference messages into the languages that people can hear and understand.”

Read more of Jenny’s story at Newsroom (New Zealand).

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