Flemish Sign Language

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A language of Belgium

Alternate Names
VGT, Vlaamse Gebarentaal
Population

5,000 (2014 EUD). 6,000 (2005 M. Vermeerbergen). 5,000 sign language users (2014 EUD).

Location

Scattered in northern Belgium.

Language Status

5 (Developing). Recognized language (2006, Parliamentary decree, 15 February).

Dialects

West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders), Oost-Vlaanderen (East Flanders), Antwerpen (Antwerp), Vlaams-Brabant (Flemish Brabant). These regional dialects developed in different deaf schools. Also intra-regional variation, some related to gender and age. Most similar to French Belgian Sign Language [sfb]. Influence from spoken Dutch [nld], particularly in mouthing. Limited influence from Signed Dutch (used for some communication with hearing people). Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].

Typology

One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

7 schools for the deaf in Flanders but only a few use VGT for instruction. As of 2008, deaf children increasingly put in regular schools, with occasional interpreting into VGT. Also use Dutch [nld], in classrooms for writing (Van Herreweghe and Vermeerbergen 2003).

Language Development
Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Agency: Federation of Flemish Deaf Organisations (Fevlado).
Other Comments

Some courses and training programs for L2 users and interpreters. 160 sign language interpreters (2014 EUD). Legal provision of free sign language interpreting since 1993. Christian.