The Quran Indonesia Project is making efforts to prepare a sign language version of the entire Quran.
The first translated chapter, Surah al-Fatiha was publicized on Youtube prior to Ramadan in 2018. Four additional chapters and a sign language version of the azan, the Muslim call to prayer were released in time for Ramadan this year.
Efforts began with Surya Sahetapy and a group of his friends, all of whom faced difficulties reciting the Quran due to being deaf.
“My deaf friends and I felt depressed because we didn’t have any way to help other deaf people to access Islam", he said in an interview to the New York Times which was held with the aid of a sign-language interpreter.
In order to remedy the problem, the 25-year-old teamed up with a local organization to translate 114 chapters of the Quran into sign language.
Galuh Sukmara Soejanto, a deaf Indonesian teacher and disability rights activist aided efforts by instructing Surya on important aspects of translation. An organization for deaf people based in Jidda, Saudi Arabia continues to ensure the accuracy of the sign language version and monitor progress.
An additional benefit of the program highlighted by Surya was the encouragement received by deaf citizens to learn sign language, something which is not prioritized in the Indonesian system.
For instance, Galuh stated that Indonesia’s public schools did not accommodate sign language users and instead placed deaf students in mainstream classrooms where they had to teach themselves to lip-read in order to receive an education.
However, with initiates such as those overseen by the Quran Indonesia Project, it is hoped that the accessibility will further increase for the 2.9 million deaf Indonesians recorded by the Central Statistics Bureau.