Salvadoran Sign Language


A language of El Salvador

Alternate Names
El Salvadoran Sign Language, LESA, LESSA, Lengua de señas salvadoreñas

7,500 (Ciupek-Reed 2012). Estimated 50%–75% of the total signing Deaf population (Ciupek-Reed 2012), or roughly 7,500–11,000 (less than 1% of total population).



Language Status

4 (Educational). Recognized language (2005, Acuerdo Nº 16-0132, August 12, 2005).

Language Use

LESSA is in use in families with generational deafness, in public deaf education, within deaf associations, at churches with interpreted services, for distributing information on the internet, and for official interpretation for the government of El Salvador. The growth and spread of deaf education using LESSA suggests that the percentage of LESSA users will increase. Multigenerational deaf families all use LESSA (Ciupek-Reed 2012). Five active interpreters (2008 WFD). Some also use American Sign Language [ase], especially in the western region. A few also use Costa Rican Sign Language [csr], in the eastern region, mixed with LESSA. Also use Spanish [spa], with positive attitude toward developing Spanish reading and writing skills (Ciupek-Reed 2012). Used as L2 by Costa Rican Sign Language [csr].

Language Development

Literacy in written Spanish is increasing. Taught in primary schools. Agencies: Asociación Salvadoreña de Sordos (ASS); Asociación pro Desarrollo Integral de la Comunidad Sorda Salvadoreña (ASDICSSA); Fundación Pro Educación de El Salvador (FUNPRES).


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

Some Deaf people and one deaf school use a variety of signing which is based on ASL, and which they even call ‘ASL’, but they cannot understand ASL from the United States. (Ciupek-Reed 2012). Christian.

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