The entire process of translating Scripture helps communities advance in multiple ways—particularly through literacy. In many language programs, literacy work goes on side-by-side with Bible translation. Wycliffe field personnel work alongside local community members to develop literacy materials, teach others to read and write, and establish literacy as a sustainable community value.
Literacy changes the way people think about themselves. It enhances the perceived value of their language and culture, and by implication, their own person as well. Literacy also opens the door for education and growth. Readers can learn how to improve their family's health, run a business, defend themselves from fraud, seek justice, and, above all, grow closer to God by reading the Scriptures. When people can read, or know someone who can read to them, individuals and churches are able to use the written Word of God for spiritual growth.
In order to help people get used to the idea of reading and writing in their own language, translation teams may encourage local authors to produce easy-to-read, practical materials such as calendars and booklets on malaria, HIV/AIDS, agriculture, maternal health, and clean water.
Translation teams may partner with community development specialists to address other specific community needs, such as health education, agricultural improvement, and income generation. This type of work requires many skills and specialties in a wide range of areas like health, agriculture (from agronomy to animal husbandry), reforestation, water purification, and land procurement.
As much as possible, specialists encourage community members to learn to work together to reach their own goals and meet their own needs. Once a community development program is started, community leaders are often able to take over the work, adopting and adapting strategies to meet their community needs, and incorporating outside help only when needed.