19th Edition

Sign Language of the Netherlands


A language of Netherlands

Alternate Names
Dutch Sign Language, Nederlandse Gebarentaal, NGT, SLN

7,500 in Netherlands (2014 EUD). 45,000 deaf, 495,000 hard of hearing (2005 National Hearing Foundation). 7,500 sign language users (2014 EUD). 10,000–13,000 deaf or severely hard of hearing (Dovenschap brochure). 86,500 deaf (2014 IMB). L2 users: 15,000 in Netherlands. Total users in all countries: 22,500 (as L1: 7,500; as L2: 15,000).



Language Status

5 (Developing).


Seven recognized dialects. Five developed around the original five deaf schools: Groningen, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Brabant (Stoop 2014). One is associated with the unique home for deaf elderly people, and one is the standardized variety. Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Deaf schools. Deaf associations. All ages.

Language Development
New media. Theater. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Agency: Deaf Association of the Netherlands.
Other Comments

400 working sign language interpreters (2014 EUD). Organizations for SLN teachers and interpreters. A sign center (Nederlands Gebarencentrum) develops NGT teaching materials and studies NGT lexicography. Research on NGT done at University of Amsterdam and Radboud University. Although NGT recommended for official recognition by a special committee, the Dutch government has not recognized the language (Schermer 2012). Taught as L2 (e.g. parents of deaf children). Teachers at deaf schools and interpreters have official college-level training. Secular, Christian.

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