Singapore Sign Language


A language of Singapore

Alternate Names

3,000 (2007 SIL). Very few monolinguals. Ethnic population: 4,000 (2007 SIL).



Language Status

5 (Developing).


None known. Strong influence from sign language in Shanghai, American Sign Language (ASL) [ase] and systems of signed English, with some locally-developed signs.

Language Use

Vigorous. Home, church, commerce. Used by all. Positive attitudes. All also use English [eng].

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 70% estimated in English [eng] and (or) Chinese. It is difficult for the deaf to learn to read and maintain their reading skills. Agency: Singapore Association for the Deaf.


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

Singapore Chinese Sign School for the Deaf (SCSSD) founded 1954, using Shanghainese Sign Language (SSL), a variety of Chinese Sign Language [csl]; it merged with the oral deaf school in 1963 to form Singapore School for the Deaf (SSD). Strong oralist influence in language policies and education starting 1983 (Low and Tay 2016). American Sign Language (ASL) [ase], Signing Exact English (SEE2), and Total Communication introduced in schools in the 1970s, but since 2014, SSD uses SgSL for instruction and teaches English as a second language; other schools use other approaches. Interpreters and sign language classes available through Singapore Association for the Deaf (Singapore Association for the Deaf 2016).

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