The Vatican on Easter Sunday launched a new Sign Language service on its YouTube channel. The move was part of Pope Francis’s efforts to reach out to more people with disabilities through accessible technology.
On April 4, the Vatican’s new project, titled “No One Excluded,” went live for the first time via YouTube. It is offering translations of the Pope’s live-streamed general audiences, Angelus, and Regina Coeli addresses into Italian Sign Language (LIS) and American Sign Language (ASL).
The Vatican also confirmed that they will soon release a mobile app for people with sensory impairment. This is to better utilize social media as a tool for reaching out not just to the visually disabled, but also to those with other communication-related disabilities.
Sign Language Channel
A project of the Vatican department for communication, the new Sign Language channels have been in the works for over a year. (Read: Ramil Sumangil Beats All Odds With ‘Books for a Cause’)
Sister Veronica Donatello, head of the Italian bishops’ National Service for the Pastoral Care of People with Disabilities, said it was developed in response to Pope Francis’s vision of a more inclusive Catholic Church.
“[This project is] a concrete sign of response and closeness to many people, especially in this historic time in which those who were already living in a condition of fragility are even more severely tested,” Donatello said in an interview with the Italian news agency, SIR.
She added that through the project, they are hoping “to build an increasingly evolved and inclusive society through a synergetic action that contrasts the culture of waste, putting the person at the center.”
In December 2020, during his speech for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Pope Francis highlighted the need for a more inclusive Catholic Church that is welcoming to people with disabilities. (Read: Pope Cheers for Teenage PWD on Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage)
“Before all else, I strongly reaffirm the right of persons with disabilities to receive the sacraments, like all other members of the Church,” the Pope said.
“All liturgical celebrations in the parish should be accessible to them, so that, together with their brothers and sisters, each of them can deepen, celebrate, and live their faith,” he added.
The Pope also stressed the need to provide more available technology for people with disabilities, especially in this time of a pandemic. (Read: Deaf couple makes see-through face masks for the hard-of-hearing)
“I also hope that these can be made available to those who need them, cost-free to the extent possible, also through the new technologies that have proven so important for everyone in the midst of this pandemic,” the Pope said.