Icelandic Sign Language


A language of Iceland

Alternate Names
Íslenskt Táknmál, ÍTM

300 (2010 The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture). 250 (2014 EUD). 1,400 (2014 IMB).


Mainly in the Reykjavik area.

Language Status

6b (Threatened). Recognized language (2011, Act. No. 61).


None known. Significant mutual intelligibility between Icelandic Sign Language and Danish Sign Language [dsl] (Brynjólfsdóttir etal. 2012). Based on Danish Sign Language [dsl]. Until 1910, deaf children were sent to school in Denmark; but the languages have diverged since then (Aldersson and McEntee-Atalianis 2007). Lexical similarity: 66% with Danish Sign Language [dsl] (Aldersson and McEntee-Atalianis 2007). Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].


SVO; One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Used natively by hearing children of Deaf parents and as L2 by many other hearing people (2014 R. Sverrisdóttir). The language is taught as a subject within one school in the language area. The language of introduction is Icelandic (isl) mixed with ÍTM. Home, school (mixed language use), media, community. Mostly adults. Neutral attitudes. Most are bilingual in Icelandic [isl], mostly written.

Language Development
New media. Theater. TV. Dictionary.
Other Comments

27 sign language interpreters (2014 EUD). Committee on national sign language. Research institute. Signed interpretation provided for college students. Instruction for parents of deaf children. The Communication Centre for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing provides interpreter services, ÍTM courses and consultation for families of deaf children. Interpreter training, ÍTM grammar and Deaf studies are taught at the University of Iceland. Christian (Protestant).