Deaf readers sometimes struggle with reading English because sign language is their first language. The World Bible Translation Center (WBTC) decided to do a translation that would make reading the Bible easier for them. The EVD uses simpler vocabulary and shorter sentences to make it simpler to understand. Ervin Bishop did most of the translating for the WBTC. He used a thought-for-thought or functional equivalence method of translation.
The ERV uses the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1984) as its Old Testament text with some readings from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also, it follows the Septuagint when its readings are considered more accurate. (The Septuagint is the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures.) For the New Testament, the ERV uses the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament (fourth revised edition, 1993) and Nestle-Aland Novum Testament Graece (twenty-seventh edition, 1993).
The ERV caused controversy in the Churches of Christ. (The WBTC is an outreach of the Churches of Christ.) Goebel Music wrote a book critiquing this translation titled Easy-to-Read Version: Easy to Read or Easy to Mislead? It criticized the ERV's method of translation, textual basis, and wording of certain passages.
In 2004, a major revision of the ERV was finished. It used broader vocabulary and greater use of gender-inclusive language. The EVD was left unchanged, so it and the ERV now have different texts. Both Bibles are available online from the WBTC's website.