Costa Rican Sign Language


A language of Costa Rica

Alternate Names
LESCO, Lengua de Señas Costarricense, Lenguaje de Señas Costarricense

70,700 people with hearing loss (2011 census), number of LESCO users not available.



Language Status

5 (Developing). Recognized language (2012, Ley 9049, Official Recognition of Costa Rican Sign Language).


New Costa Rican Sign Language (Modern Costa Rican Sign Language, NCRSL), Original Costa Rican Sign Language (OCRSL). Older and younger dialects differ due to influence from American Sign Language (ASL) [ase] starting in the 1970s (2008 C. Ramirez); younger signers not familiar with the older variety cannot understand it well (2013 A. Olviedo). Younger variety has 63% probable cognates with ASL [ase] on a 100-word modified Swadesh word list; older variety only 27% (Woodward 2011).

Language Use

Vigorous. Used by all. Also use Spanish [spa].

Language Development

Taught in primary schools. Dictionary. Agency: Asociación Nacional de Sordos (ANASCOR).


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

From 1940 onward education was oralist, but changed to Total Communication in 1974; use of LESCO in the classroom started in the early 2000s. Interpreter training at the Universidad de Costa Rica. (2013 A. Oviedo). Two other sign languages among indigenous groups in the south (the Bribri and Boruca), apparently unrelated to LESCO (Woodward 1991).

Also spoken in:

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