*under construction*

Our links provide more information about the sign languages and Deaf community

Nos liens fournissent plus d’informations sur les langues des signes et la communauté Sourde

Algeria Ghana Senegal
Angola Angola Guinea Seychelles
Benin Benin Guinea-Bissau Sierra Leone
Botswana Botswana Ivory Coast Somalia
Burkina Faso Kenya South Africa
Burundi Lesotho South Sudan
Cameroon Liberia Sudan
Cape Verde Libya Swaziland
Central African Republique Madagascar Tanzania
Chad Malawi Togo
Comoros Mali Tunisia
Congo Mauretania Uganda
Congo, Democratic Republique Mauritius Zambia
Djibouti Maroc Zimbabwe
Egypte Mozambique
Equatorial Guinea Namibia Namibia
Eritrea Niger
Ethiopia Nigeria
Gabon Ruanda
Gambia Sao Tome and Principe


Kamei, Nobutaka. “The birth of Langue des Signes Franco-Africaine: Creole ASL in West and Central French-speaking Africa.” Sign Language Communication Studies (2006): 67-68.


Algerian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: [asp]

It influenced the deaf community in Oujda in northern Morocco.
From the ethnologue.

En Algérie, la Langue des Signes Algérienne (LSA) est reconnue officiellement par la loi du 8 mai 2002 relative à la protection et à la promotion des personnes handicapées, il est prévu la réalisation d’au moins une école spécialisée dans chaque wilaya d’ici la fin 2009 selon le Ministre de la Solidarité Nationale. From french wikipedia or a shorter version in English.

Algerian Jewish Sign Language or Gharadaia Sign Language

Ghardaia Sign Language, also known as Algerian Jewish Sign Language, is an endangered village sign language originally of Ghardaïa, Algeria that is now spoken in Israel.

The Jewish community of Ghardaïa emigrated to France and Israel in 1966. However, because deaf Algerian Jews tended to marry deaf Israelis from other backgrounds, the language of the home became Israeli Sign Language. GSL is therefore moribund, being used primarily by deaf immigrants with their siblings and parents, and ironically more widespread among hearing immigrants, who are not part of Israeli Deaf culture, than among the deaf.

Lanesman, S. & Meir, I. (2007). The sign language of Algerian immigrants in Israel. Paper presented at the workshop Cross-linguistic Research and International Cooperation in Sign Language Linguistics, Nijmegen. PDF

Carol Padden, Sign language geography, UC San Diego


For a description of the SL situation in Angola, see:



Burkina Faso

Burkina Sign Language
Burkina Sign Language (in French: Langue des signes mossi) is the indigenous sign language of theDeaf community in the capital of Burkina Faso,Ouagadougou. Deaf education in Burkina is a variety of American Sign Language adapted to French, referred to as ‘Langue des Signes de l’Afrique Francophone’ by Kamei (2006) . Source: wikipedia.



Cape Verde

Central African Republique


Chadian Sign Language 

ISO 639-3: [cds]

Schools and an association for the deaf in N’Djamena, Sarh, and Moundou.
Influences from American Sign Language [ase]. Some signs are traditional. Teachers trained in Nigeria. Muslim, Christian
Source: ethnologue.

Nigerian Sign Language

See: Nigeria


Egyptian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: [esl]



Eritrean Sign Language

ISO 639-3: none (mis)

An artificial sign language lexicon of Eritrea. It is designed to replace the existing sign lexicon, which developed since sign language was introduced in 1955 and was based on Swedish and Finnish Sign Language, with ASL-based Sudanese influences.

See also the paper “Construction in Eritrean Sign Language“, California State University. Retrieved December 2006.
And wikipedia.


Ethiopian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: [eth]

EthSL is an emerging sign language with some regional variations. Like many of African Sign Languages, it has a historical connection with American Sign Language. However, it has independent lexical and grammatical structures.

source: wikipedia

Legal status
Ethiopian Sign language is not legally recognized on the constitution although the former Ethiopian president put his signature on Ethiopian Sign Language dictionary. The constitution guaranteed equality for all languages in the Country.

Dictionaries and other language materials
– Ethiopian sign language dictionary published in 2008, Amharic sign language Ha Book , Sign language books for bingers, some sign language visual CD.
– website Allafrica
– Ethiopian Association for the Deaf (ENAD), Ministery of Education, Alpha Special School for the Deaf and Mekanisa School for the Deaf (1978). Amharic Sign Language for Deaf and Mute. First Book. Addis Abeba: Birhanina Selam Printing Press.
– Ethiopian National Association for the Deaf (ENAD) (2008) Ethiopian Sign Language Dictionary. Addis Abeba: Artistic Printing Enterprise.

ethiopia 1

ethiopia 2


Academic programs

Ethiopian Sign Language, presumably a national standard, is used in primary, secondary, and—at Addis Ababa University—tertiary education where deaf students enroll, and on national television. See the website of the university.

source: wikipedia

Interpreter services
Sign language interpretation services are found in some domains such as in preparatory schools where deaf students enroll but only in Addis Ababa city and at some churches where most deaf attend. There are also sign language interpretation services during the national parliamentary meetings. Although there is no interpreting training program except some sign language interpreting courses found in Ethiopian Sign language and Deaf Culture Program in Addis Abeba University.

There are some youtube video clips that have been presented by deaf people in Ethiopian sign language. But there are more works remained. However most videos did not download in youtube.
Follow the link for an example.

National Television Programs
ETV, the Ethiopian television network, has a news program presented for the Deaf on every Friday afternoon at 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm and occasionally has sign language interpretation segments during coverage of important events.

Research on Ethiopian Sign Language

Abadi Tsegay. 2011. Offline Candidate Hand Gesture Selection And Trajectory Determination For Continuous Ethiopian Sign Language. MA thesis, Addis Ababa University. Thesis download

Dagnachew Feleke Wolde. 2011. Machine Translation System for Amharic Text to Ethiopian Sign Language. MA thesis, Addis Ababa University. Thesis download

Theses from the BA in Ethiopian Sign Language and Deaf Studies at Addis Ababa University

Abiyot Eshete. Factors Affecting the Development of Ethiopian Sign Language: The case of Gebre Guracha Town. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Birhanesh Tefera. 2010. Age Factor in Ethiopian Sign Language Variation: The Case of Vicktory School for the Deaf. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Dagnachew Feleke. 2011. Machine Translation System for Amharic Text to Ethiopian Sign Language. Unpublished MA thesis: Addis Ababa University.

Demisachew Workie. 2010. Language Use in Addis Ababa University by Deaf Students. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Elizabeth Demissie.  2011. Sign Language Use as a Medium of Instruction: The case of Grade One and Two at Mekanissa School for the Deaf: unpublished MA thesis: Addis Ababa University

Esete Birhanu. 2011. The Role of religious Institution in the Development of Ethiopian Sign Language. Unpublished BA senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Eskedar Yikunoamlak. 2011. The Influence of Amharic Language on Ethiopian sign Language: The Case of Addis Ababa University. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Fitsum Tafesse. 2010. Challenges of Teaching Ethiopian Sign Language as a Second Language in Addis Ababa. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Kidane Admasu. 2010. Lexical Variation in Ethiopian Sign Language. Unpublished BA Senior Essay:  Addis Ababa University.

Kidane Admasu. 2013. Compound Sign Formation in Ethiopian Sign Language. Unpublished MA thesis: Addis Ababa University.

Teame Yihadego. 2012. An Investigation in Ethiopian Sign Language Poetry. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Tisgereda Getachew. 2011. Survey of Bilingual and Multilingual Among Deaf Students of Two Selected Deaf Schools in Addis Ababa. Unpublished BA senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Tsehai Mulugeta. 20111. Phonemic Inventory of Ethiopian Sign Language. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Woinshet Girma. 2010. Plurality in Ethiopian Sign Language. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Woinshet Girma. 2013. Sociolinguistics Survey of Addis Ababa Deaf Community. Unpublished MA thesis: Addis Ababa University

Yiheyis Chane. 2010. History of Ethiopian Sign Language. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.

Yohannes Teklay. 2011. Personal Name Signs in Ethiopian Sign Language. Unpublished BA Senior Essay: Addis Ababa University.


Gambian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: none

Gambian Sign Language is a national sign language used in Gambia by the deaf community there. The only school for deaf children in the Gambia, St John’s School for the Deaf, was set up by a Catholic priest from Ireland. Dutch Sign Language was introduced to the school along with British Sign Language which developed into Gambian Sign Language, incorporating some indigenous gestures used by the general population. Unlike much of West Africa, American Sign Language was not introduced to the Gambia until much.

Source: wikipedia


Gambian Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GADHOH). 2001– 2005. Gambian Sign Language: Books 1–4. Banjul: GADHOH. (see dictionaries page).



Adamorobe Sign Language (AdaSL)

ISO 639-3: [ads]

Indigenous deaf sign language, also used by many hearing people. In past years, as high as 10% deafness (1971), but about 2% in 2001 (Nyst 2007). All ages. Children also learn Ghanaian Sign Language [gse] (unrelated to AdaSL) in a deaf boarding school, but most older deaf and the hearing population know only AdaSL (Nyst 2007).
See also ethnologue.

Nanabin Sign Language

ISO 639-3: none (mis)

This is a family sign language of the village of Nanabin in the Akan region of Ghana. It is used by three generations of a single family which is mostly deaf. The second generation are bilingual inGhanaian Sign Language.
Nanabin SL is similar to Adamorobe Sign Language in certain conventionalized signs deriving from Akan hearing culture. Both use lax handshapes and portray events from the perspective of the character rather than of the observer.
source: wikipedia.


Francophone African Sign Language

ISO 639-3: gus (Guinean Sign Language) or cds (Chadian Sign Language)

Kamei, Nobutaka ed. 2008. Langue des Signes d’Afrique Francophone (LSAF) (DVD). Fuchu: Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

Tamomo, Serge. 1994. Le langage des signes du sourd Africain Francophone. Cotonou, Bénin: PEFISS


Ivory Coast





Libyan Sign Language

ISO 639-3: lbs

Libyan Sign Language is the deaf sign language ofLibya. It appears to belong to the Arab sign language family (Hendriks 2008).




Should SL be compulsory?


Bamako Sign Language

ISO 639-3: [bog]

In Mali, several sign languages are used. In deaf education and younger urban deaf communities, an ASL based sign language is used. LaSiMa is the local sign language of Mali. It has developed spontaneously, outside the context of Deaf education. In 1995, a dictionary of the language was published by Pinsonneault. From 2007 to 2012, two large projects took place to document local sign language use at various places in Mali, leading to two digital video corpora, with annotations in French. Read more…


Nyst, Victoria, Sylla, Kara & Magassouba, Moustapha (2012) Deaf signers in the Dogon, a rural area in Mali In: Zeshan, Ulrike and Connie de Vos eds. 2012. Sign languages in village communities: Anthropological and linguistic insights. Sign Language Typology Series 4. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Nyst, V. (2010) Sign languages in West Africa. Brentari, D. (ed.) Sign Languages – A Cambridge language survey In: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 405 – 432.PDF




Mauritian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: lsy

is the indigenous deaf sign language of Mauritius.

Adone, Dany & Gebert, A. (2006). A dictionary and grammar for Mauritian Sign Language. Volume 1. Editions Le Printemps Ltée, Vacoas, République de Maurice.


Moroccan Sign Language

ISO 639-3: xms


Mozambician Sign Language

ISO 639-3: [msl]

Some dialectal variation. Standardization efforts are in progress (1999). Not related to or based on Portuguese [por]nor Portuguese Sign Language [psr].


Namibian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: [nsl]


Ashipala et al., “The development of a dictionary of Namibian Sign Language”, in Erting, 1994, The Deaf Way: Perspectives from the International Conference on Deaf Culture


The Namibian SignWiki (online dictionary):

CLaSH. 2004. Namibian Signs: Sign Language Instruction Video for Families of Hearing Impaired Children. Video. CLaSH: Windhoek, Namibia. 278 | Sign Language Studies

Madison, J. P., ed. 2005. Namibian Sign Language: A Book for Beginners. Oshakati, Namibia: [s.n.].

Morgan, R., S. K. Liddell, M. M. N. Haikali, et al. 1991. Namibian Sign Language to English and Oshiwambo. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press.



Nigerian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: nsi

Influences from American [ase] and Ghanaian [gse] sign languages. Originated in 1960.

Bura Sign Language

ISO 639-3: none (mis)

Roger Blench, An unreported African sign language for the deaf among the Bura in Northeast Nigeria

Hausa Sign Language

ISO 639-3: hsl

Schmaling, Constanze (2000). Maganar Hannu: Language of the hands. A descriptive analysis of Hausa Sign Language. Hamburg: Signum.

American Sign Language

Ruanda/ Rwanda

Rwanda Sign Language (Amarenga y’Ikinyarwanda)

Dictionary can be ordered at:

French Sign Language

Sao Tome and Principe


Mbour Sign Language

ISO 639-3: none (mis)

is an indigenous sign languageused in a neighborhood of the city of M’Bour in Senegal. Deaf people in the neighborhood meet regularly.


Seychelloise Sign Language (SSL)

ISO 639-3: unknown

See pictures:

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leonian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: sgx

Sierra Leonean Sign Language is a variety or descendent of American Sign Language (ASL) used in schools for the deaf in Sierra Leone, or at least in the capital Freetown. As in much of West Africa, the first schools for the deaf were founded by the American missionary Andrew Foster or his students.


Somali sign language (SSL)

ISO 639-3: none (mis)

Somali Sign Language (SSL) is a sign language used by the deaf community in Somalia (more specifically Somaliland) and Djibouti. It is based on Kenyan Sign Language.

In the 1980s a school for the deaf was established in the Somali Kenyan town of Wajir by Annalena Tonelli. Students there became fluent in Kenyan Sign Language. In 1997, three graduates from Wajir helped establish the first school for the deaf in Somalia called the Annalena School for the Deaf named after the late Annalena Tonelli, in Borama. One of the teachers at Boroma soon founded a school in Djibouti, and, with a bit more difficulty, another was established in Hargeisa


Woodford, Doreen E. (2006). “The beginning and growth of a new language: Somali Sign Language”. Enabling Education Network. Retrieved 30 August 2013

ISO 639-3:sfs


12,100 deaf persons including 6,000 Black, 2,000 English white, 2,000 Afrikaans white, 1,200 Coloured, 900 Indian (Van Cleve 1986).

Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


Deaf sign language


The North British sign system was used for the deaf in white English-speaking families. In 1881 a school for Afrikaans [afr]-speaking families began using British Sign Language [bfi]. Several dialects are used unofficially in different schools. 9 sign language systems, 60% related to British Sign Language [bfi] or Australian sign languages [asf], few to American Sign Language [ase].

Language Use

Understood to some degree by most deaf people. Some interpreters provided in courts.

Language Resources

OLAC resources in and about South African Sign Language

Other Comments

First deaf school established about 1846. Now 29 schools for 4,000 children. There is a Signed Afrikaans as well.


Online dictionaries:

  1. SignGenius SASL Pro Software
  2. Thibologa basic SASL course
  3. SignPuddle

South Sudan

See Sudan


ISO 639-3: none (mis)

Sudan and South Sudan have multiple regional sign languages, which are not mutually intelligible. A survey of just three states found 150 sign languages, though this number included instances of home sign. By 2009, the Sudanese National Union of the Deaf had worked out a Unified Sudanese Sign Language, but it had not yet been widely disseminated.


Unified Sudanese Sign Language

Youtube film about the creation of a unified Sudanese sign language:

Karen Andrae, 2009. Language for inclusion (Sign language in Sudan)




American Sign Language

French Sign Language


Tunisian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: tse

Tunisian Sign Language is the sign language used by deaf people in Tunisia. It derives from Italian Sign Language, mixed with indigenous sign


See also:


Uganda Sign Language/ USL

ISO 639-3: ugn

Ugandan Sign Language (USL) is the deaf sign language ofUganda. Uganda was the second country in the world to recognize sign language in its constitution, in 1995. AUgandan Sign Language Dictionary has been published. However, knowledge of USL is primarily urban, as access to education for the rural deaf remains poor. Nonetheless, USL is a highly valued element of group identity among the deaf community.

The first Ugandan schools for the deaf opened in 1962, and several sign languages are reported to have merged in 1988, when sign was allowed in the classroom. This suggests that USL may be a creole of the local languages that the deaf students created informally in the different schools. There were also influences from ASLBSL, and Kenyan Sign Language, the first two from the language of instruction in early classrooms, and the latter from deaf Ugandans who went to Kenya for higher education.

Both the British two-handed manual alphabet and the American manual alphabet are used, with minor modifications. Finger-spelling and initialized signs using both alphabets are common among people who learned USL formally as children. Mouthing is also common with abbreviated syllables from both English and Luganda.


–          Dorothy Lule and Lars Wallin, 2010, “Transmission of Sign Languages in Africa”. In Brentari, ed, Sign Languages. Cambridge University Press


Zambian Sign Language

ISO 639-3: zsl

Zambian Sign Language is a sign language used by the Deaf community in Zambia. It is not clear how many Zambians use Zambian Sign Language, although it is taught in some special schools and interpreters appear on some television programmes. The Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Zambia (ASLIZ) is involved in promoting greater support for and recognition of Zambian Sign Language in schools, in the government and in entertainment media such as television.


See also:


Zimbabwean Sign Languages/Zimsign

ISO 639-3: zib

Several Zimbabwean sign languages developed independently among deaf students in different Zimbabwean schools for the deaf starting in the 1940s. It is not clear how many languages they are, as little research has been done; Masvingo School Sign is known to be different from that of other schools, but each school apparently has a separate sign language, and these are different from the language or languages used outside of the schools.[2] American Sign Language is reported to be used, but it is not clear to what extent.[3] “Sign language” became one of Zimbabwe’s official national languages in the Constitution of 2013, but there is no indication of what this means.


See also ethnologue:

Masvingo School Sign, Zimbabwe Community Sign, Zimbabwe School Sign. Masvingo sign language is different from that used in other schools. School languages differ from those used by adults outside. Inherent intelligibility unclear. Some educators desire standardization. Possible relationships to sign languages from Germany, Ireland, Australia, England, South Africa.