Fotografía de la portada del blog de redta-ec donde se observa un manual de lengua de señas para el personal de establecimientos hoteleros

Are all sign languages the same?

Latin American Comparison of Sign Languages / Signs

Sign language is not a universal language. The World Federation of Deaf People points out that there are more than 300 sign languages in the world, a complement to almost seven thousand oral languages, including for example the English or Spanish language.

Infografía en donde se explica que: Alrededor de 1 billon de personas en el mundo viven con discapacidades. De ellos, casi 275 millones tienen discapacidad auditiva. Y 5 millones conviven con una sordera profunda.

Why is there no universal sign language? Myths to tear down:

  • There is a sign language for each oral language. There are no known cases where sign language has developed in parallel to the spoken language of the locality where it originated.
  • They are signs and gestures. Being a language and like any other, it corresponds to a cultural system, which denotes the identity of the deaf community.
  • The same sign is used anywhere in the world. Since sign languages ​​have evolved according to the needs of each culture, therefore they vary from community to community. Therefore, it is not the same sign to define “food” if you are in Japan and use chopsticks, than if you are in Ecuador and use a spoon.
  • Sign language is only for deaf people. There are several communities that use sign languages ​​that do not necessarily have any type of disability. An important case is that of the HOPAS (hearing children of deaf parents), for whom the mother tongue is the sign language and not Spanish or their local oral language. Or so also sign language interpreters and students of it.
  • Sign language is equivalent to Spanish (or local oral language). It is important to take into account that people who have the sign language as their mother tongue when writing do not use Spanish naturally. This is because the sign language like the rest of languages ​​has its own system and particular structures.
  • Use lip reading on sign language. Finally, it is important to remember that in 2008 the sign language in the Constitution was legally recognized in Ecuador. For this reason, and being an official language, it is important to prevail the communication in sign language (in Ecuador abbreviated LSEC) over oralism; pointing rather to a bilingual bilingual development, understanding that this is part of the identity of deaf people.
Infografía de un mapa de Europa mostrando el número de personas sordas que usan la Lengua de Signos en Europa..

Infographic of the number of deaf people who use Sign Language in Europe. Source: Visualfy

Comparison of the fingerprint alphabet of different countries

Finger spelling is the process of spelling words using hand shapes that correspond to the letters of the word. A set of these forms used to spell words is known as a fingerprint alphabet or “manual alphabet.” There are many different manual alphabets around the world.

Spelling properly is a very basic and useful language competence when communicating in sign language. Here is a sample of the alphabets of the countries that emit tourism to Ecuador (2018).

Infografía: Ecuador tuvo una balanza positiva de US$ 1.330 millones en 2018