Italian Sign Language


A language of Italy

Alternate Names
LIS, Lingua Italiana Dei Segni

40,000 (2014 EUD). 40,000 deaf sign language users (2014 EUD). 70,000 profoundly deaf people, including 9,000 school age. (Van Cleve 1986).


Scattered, including Sardinia and Sicily.

Language Status

5 (Developing).


Some variation between northern, central, and southern regions, possibly enough to be considered separate languages. Deaf Italians report that communication between signers from different regions requires negotiation. Opinions differ as to whether the variation is desirable or should be standardized (2013 D. Eberle and S. Eberle). Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Vigorous. Used by all. Also use Italian [ita], with widely varying degrees of bilingualism (spoken and written).

Language Development

Theater. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Agency: National Agency for the Protection and Assistance of the Deaf (ENS).


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

200 working sign language interpreters (2019 EUD). Classes in LIS for hearing people. Bilingual (Italian and LIS) programs for deaf and hearing children. Christian.

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