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A student at Makanisa School for the Deaf in Addis Ababa

Voices-only Wednesday: Singing (loudly) in sign language


Welcome to Voices-only Wednesday, where we feature the best a cappella videos that come across our eyes — and ears — on the web.

This week we present one of my all-time favorite videos. I shot this in early 2011 during daily chapel at the Makanisa School for the Deaf in the capital city of Ethiopia — Addis Ababa (as fun to say as it is to type). 
The children are singing in one of the local languages — most likely Amharic — and signing using a non-verbal vocabulary devised by Church of Christ members and based on American Sign Language, or ASL. 
Among the Christian school’s students are the hearing-impaired and their hearing siblings, who learn sign language to help them communicate. So the kids sign and sing — very loudly, I might add.
To this day, I don’t know any of the lyrics to this song. Those of you who know ASL, please give this video a look and post some of the lyrics you see in the comments section below. Thanks!
The story of the Makanisa school is a personal favorite. Unable to enter Ethiopia solely to evangelize, the early missionaries there had to find a way to provide a community service. They looked around for the East African’s nation’s underserved people and found a real need to help the hearing impaired — often shunned by their communities. (Read our full story, “Signs of love,” here, and learn how deaf ministry has grown Churches of Christ in Ethiopia.)
I would love to see more videos of our brothers and sisters in Christ praising God in sign. A quick glance across the web yielded a couple of a cappella sign language videos. Here’s one from a group of women called The River Oaks Chorus, “Let There Be Peace.”


Doris S. Wheeler of Arizona has a number of a cappella, sign language offerings on her YouTube channel, including several Christmas songs. She sings and signs slowly to help folks learn the songs. Here’s her rendition of Michael W. Smith’s “Above All.”

Do you know of any more? Please post the links below.
Send us your selections for Voices-only Wednesday. Post your a cappella recordings to YouTube or Vimeo and send us the links. Or recommend your favorite videos in the comments section.

Filed under: News Extras Photos and Videos

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