Icelandic Sign Language


A language of Iceland

Alternate Names
ITM, Íslenskt Táknmál

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


Reykjavik region: mainly in the capital city; otherwise scattered.

Language Status

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


None known. Significant mutual intelligibility between Icelandic Sign Language and Danish Sign Language [dsl] (2014 R. Sverrisdóttir). 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 ITM. Home, school (mixed language use), media, community. Some young people, all adults. Neutral attitudes. Most also use Icelandic [isl], especially for writing.

Language Development

TV. Theater. Dictionary. Agency: Icelandic Association of the Deaf.


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

25 working sign language interpreters (2019 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.

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