Spanish Sign Language


A language of Spain

Alternate Names
LSE, Lengua de Señas Española, Lengua de Signos Española, Mímica

45,000 (1994). Deaf sign language users, total for all three sign languages in Spain: 60,000–80,000 (2000 Instituto Nacional de Estadística), 100,000 (2014 EUD). Based on these numbers and proportions of total population in various regions in Spain, estimated 45,000–75,000 for LSE.


Scattered, except in Catalonia and Valencia autonomous communities.

Language Status

6b (Threatened). Recognized language (2007, Law 27, Official language of deaf community).


Significant regional variation but with only minor difficulties in intercommunication. About 70–80% intelligibility by users of Catalan Sign Language [csc] and 80% intelligibility by users of Valencian Sign Language [vsv]. There may have been some early influence from French Sign Language [fsl]. (2014 S. Parkhurst). Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Deaf schools, plus many deaf children integrated in hearing schools, with widespread oralist emphasis. Many young adults arrive to Deaf associations not knowing how to sign. Deaf who have travelled tend to understand the other sign languages in Spain but use their own. (2017 S. Parkhurst). Some young people, all adults. Some young people, more widespread among deaf adults. Some also use Spanish [spa].

Language Development

TV. Theater. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 2007–2014. Agency: National Confederation of Deaf People (CNSE).


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

Many sign language classes for hearing people. Materials for learning as L2. Few parents actually learn to sign. (2014 S. Parkhurst). Christian.

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