Russian Sign Language


A language of Russian Federation


121,000 in Russian Federation (2010 census).


Moscow and Saint Petersburg are major centers. Widespread with significant dialect variation.

Language Status

5 (Developing).


Reported historical connections to sign languages in Austria and France, but not obvious from extensive wordlist comparison (Bickford 2005). Very similar to sign languages in Ukraine and Moldova. Internal dialect variation appears significant but needs further survey.


Finger-spelling system.

Language Use

Deaf associations and athletic clubs. Signed interpretation required in court and used at important public events. Many sign language classes for hearing people. Organization for sign language teachers. Hundreds of residential schools for deaf in the Russian Federation; some vocational schools, mainly oralist.

Language Development
Primary schools for deaf children since 1878. Films. TV. Videos. Dictionary.
Other Comments

First school for the deaf opened at Pavlovsk near St. Petersburg in 1806.

Also spoken in:

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