Swiss-Italian Sign Language


A language of Switzerland

Alternate Names
LIS, LIS-SI, Lingua dei Segni Italiana, Lingua dei segni della Svizzera italiana

300 (Boyes Braem and Rathmann 2010). Ethnic population: 10,000 (2014 EUD). 10,000 deaf in all of Switzerland.


Scattered. Graubünden and Ticino cantons.

Language Status

5* (Developing). Recognized language (2002, Federal Parliament, Law on Equality for Disabled People).


None known. Two main varieties: Lugano, Bellinzona (Boyes Braem and Rathmann 2010). Similar to Italian Sign Language [ise], especially to variants from Lombardy (2016 G. Harms). Variety used around Bellinzona influenced by sign languages of immigrants from the former Yugoslavia, Lithuania and Poland. (Boyes Braem and Rathmann 2010).


Fingerspelling: One-handed, similar to French Sign Language [fsl].

Language Use

Deaf school has closed (Boyes Braem and Rathmann 2010). Deaf association. Status of signing is increasing. Also use American Sign Language [ase], and other signed and written languages in Switzerland and surrounding countries (Boyes Braem and Rathmann 2010).

Language Development

TV. Videos. Dictionary. Agencies: Swiss Federation of the Deaf (SGB-FSS); Regionalkomitee Italienische Schweiz.


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

Taught as L2. 13,000 hearing signers (all three sign languages) in Switzerland, estimate based on participants in sign language classes (Boyes Braem and Rathmann 2010). 8 working sign language interpreters (2019 EUD). Christian.

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