Zimbabwe Sign Language


A language of Zimbabwe

Alternate Names

280,000 (2008 WFD). 280,000 deaf members of the Zimbabwe National Association of the Deaf (2008 WFD).


Mashonaland Central province: Muzarabani district, Centenary area.

Language Status

5* (Developing). Recognized language (2013, Constitution, Article 6(1)).


Zimbabwe School Sign, Masvingo School Sign, Zimbabwe Community Sign. Signing varies significantly in different schools. Masvingo sign language is different from that used in other schools. School languages differ from those used by adults outside. Inherent intelligibility unclear. Dictionary publication intended to bring standardization. Possible influence from several European sign languages. Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Primary schools for deaf children since 1940s. Also secondary schools (2008 WFD). Deaf associations. Also use English [eng], in written form, but literacy in it is generally limited. Also use Shona [sna], especially those from Masvingo, but with limited literacy.

Language Development

TV. Dictionary. Agencies: Zimbabwe National Association of the Deaf (ZIMNAD); Association of the Deaf (ASSOD); King George VI School and Centre, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

15 interpreters, trained by Zimbabwe National Association of the Deaf (2008 WFD).

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