Just when I thought I'd heard everything. How is teaching sign language to men "spiritual instruction" of any sort? Also, I'll bet when they went to school, the teachers were women
I suspect because we had to teach them "spiritual" words it was "spiritual instruction". The JWs have a whole vocabulary of word definitions that ASL (American Sign Language) wouldn't cover.
I learned my sign language from the deaf themselves. I didn't use ASL. I did a word-for-word translation (SEE - Signes Exact English ) in the beginning. Later on I used a cross between ASL and SEE.
I taught sign language at the school for the deaf in Montreal. I started to learn and then use the new signs at the KH. I had one deaf elder who always demanded to know where I had learned the new signs. He didn't like me very much. So I would tell him that I learned the sign at the school his sons were going to. So he would turn to his 8 yr old son to check up on me. He would only accept the new sign after his son told him I was right.
The other thing I would do is when I would use the new sign I would show it, spell it and show it again.
Of all the people that I taught there was probably only a couple of them that were good at it. Most were painful to watch. And once the hearing elder started to teach other men it was horrible. He was terrible at it and unkindly passed his inept signs to tose he taught.
When I went back (just for a visit) 5 years later the interpreters had to wear a dark blue smock to help the deaf read what she was wearing. That did make it easier for the deaf to see the hand signs. The other thing I discovered was that the deaf group had moved towards being a small deaf congregation. They met in the "back room" downstairs and didn't use interpreters. They didn't do this for all the meetings but I thought it was far better than having to read poor to terrible interpreters