Bible Societies around the world assisted in the completion of Scripture translations in 49 languages spoken by more than 580 million people last year, according to data from United Bible Societies.

The organisation's Global Scripture Access Report for 2017 also shows that seven communities - based in Mozambique, Myanmar, South Sudan, Taiwan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam - received the first full Bible in their language while four received the first New Testament translation and nine communities received their first translation of a particular portion of Scripture.

New translations were carried out to replace existing translations in 30 different languages spoken by more than 566 million people.

Meanwhile, Bible Societies in 32 countries ran Braille projects to help meet the Scripture needs of blind people, with Braille portions of Scripture available in two languages for the first time during the year. Bible Societies are also involved in 26 active sign language projects with 10 more in planning.

Overall, the report reveals that at the end of 2017, of the 7,097 languages in the world, 674 - spoken by some 5.4 billion people - now have a complete Bible and a further 1,515, spoken by 631 million people, have a New Testament. This leaves 406 million people with only some portions of Scripture in their language and 209 million people with no Scriptures in their language. 

Michael Perreau, director general of United Bible Societies - a global network of Bible Societies working in more than 200 countries and territories, described the figures as encouraging.

"The Bible for everyone. This is the mission that drives us forward in everything we do, and Bible translation plays a central role in that as we seek to serve churches of all denominations," he said.

"What an encouragement to see the impact of this work in 2017 – not just the numbers of translations completed but how lives are being changed, too."

Bible Societies around the world are currently working on more than 400 translation projects.