Kenyan Sign Language


A language of Kenya

Alternate Names

340,000 (2007 DOOR), increasing.



Language Status

5 (Developing). Recognized language (2010, Constitution, Official Languages of Parliament, Article 120(2)).


Standardized with slight variations since 1961, when primary schools for deaf children began. Minor differences between Nairobi (central), Kisumu (western) and Mombasa (eastern). Mainly unrelated to other sign languages, although appears to have influenced Uganda Sign Language [ugn]. There appears to be less lexical borrowing (fingerspelling, initialization) from spoken languages than in many other sign languages. Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

University of Nairobi backs KSL. Deaf associations, government, and courts. Church, government. Mainly those in schools and over 15 years old. Neutral attitudes.

Language Development
Schools under the Kenya Institute of Education use Kenyan version of (American) Exact Signed English, including 1 at Machakos. KSL used at Nyangoma School at Bondo, a primary and boys’ technical school (Sakwa), and in 1 girl’s school. Taught in primary and secondary schools. TV. Dictionary. Bible portions: 2010–2013.