Indian Sign Language


A language of India

Alternate Names
IPSL, ISL, Indo-Pakistani Sign Language, Urban Indian Sign Language

5,930,000 (2014 IMB). Possibly over 10 million profoundly deaf, assuming approximately 1% of the general population (over 1.21 billion according to the 2011 census), which is a typical range for developing countries. Total users in all countries: 8,530,000.



Language Status

6a (Vigorous).


Bangalore-Chennai-Hyderabad Sign Language, Mumbai-Delhi Sign Language. Most sign language varieties in south Asia appear to be related, but there is considerable variation, which has only been partially assessed. Some scholars regard most varieties in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and possibly Nepal as dialects of one language called Indo-Pakistani Sign Language (IPSL), while others feel at least some varieties should be recognized as separate languages. The ISO standard currently (as of 2017) distinguishes ISL from Pakistan Sign Language [pks], West Bengal Sign Language (Kolkata Sign Language) [wbs], and Nepalese Sign Language [nsp]. Some influence from British Sign Language [bfi] in the fingerspelling system and a few other signs developed indigenously in India.

Language Use

Vigorous. All ages. Many also use American Sign Language [ase], especially in Bangalore (Panda 2012).

Language Development
Literacy rate in L2: Below 2%. Male literacy rate in L2 is higher than female as men more likely to attend school. TV. Videos. Dictionary.
Other Comments

2% or less of deaf children attend deaf schools. Deaf schools mainly do not use ISL, but vocational programs often do. Nearly all educated Deaf are bilingual in a spoken language of wider communication to some degree, and ISL serves as a signed language of wider communication among Deaf in India, esp. in cities. Starting 2001, interpreter training in Mumbai by the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for Hearing Handicapped.

Also spoken in:

Expand All Collapse All
Page Views Left: