Swedish Sign Language

Swedish Sign Language
Svenskt Teckenspråk
Native to Sweden
Native speakers
10,000 (2014)[1]
Swedish Sign
  • Swedish Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3 swl
Glottolog swed1236[3]
The Swedish Sign Language word for "part-time"

Swedish Sign Language (Svenskt teckenspråk or STS) is the sign language used in Sweden. It is recognized by the Swedish government as the country's official sign language, and hearing parents of deaf children are required to learn it.[4] There are less than 10,000 speakers, making the language endangered.[5]


Swedish sign language first came into use in 1800. It does not stem from any other languages. In fact, this self-created language went on to influence Finnish sign language and Portuguese sign language. 1809 marks the year of the first deaf school in Sweden. It wasn't until 1981 that Swedish Sign Language was recognized as a national language of Sweden.


Many of the handshapes used in fingerspelling in Swedish Sign Language are similar to those in American Sign Language, even though the two languages are not related. For example, D is the same as B in ASL, G is the same as S in ASL, H is the same as F in ASL, I is the same in ASL, K is the same in ASL, M and N are very similar in ASL, O is the same in ASL, S is the same as C in ASL, and U, V & W are the same in ASL (but with a different palm orientation).[6]

American Sign Language Alphabet
Swedish Sign Language

Education and communication

Per the Education Act 1998, deaf children are expected to be able to write in Swedish and English, in addition to expressing their thoughts in Swedish Sign Language. Thus, the establishment of six state-run schools (one of which specializes in learning disabilities) have been established regionally for deaf children who cannot attend traditional comprehensive schools. Comprehensive and secondary schools in Sweden offer classes in addition to a one year program to students to learn Swedish Sign Language as a third land language, as well as in hopes of becoming an interpreter. Interpreters are found in hospitals, and they also teach the language to the parents and siblings of deaf children. Sweden provides 240 hours of courses over four years to parents so that they may learn to communicate with their children. Additionally, weekly courses in the language are also available to the siblings of deaf children and the children of deaf parents. [7]

Expanding the culture of the Deaf

Since the recognition of Swedish Sign Language as a national language of Sweden, the Swedish government has made available to deaf individuals television shows and news broadcasts in sign language. Subtitles in sign language are also increasing.On November 29, 2001, the first bible translated into Swedish Sign Language was received. Furthermore, the Health and Medical Service Act (1982) guaranteed interpreters for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals in working life, leisure, and club activities.[7]

See also


  1. Swedish Sign Language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. SignPuddle 2.0. Signbank.org. Retrieved on 2013-10-29.
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Swedish Sign Language". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. Padden, Carol; Humphries, Tom (1988). Deaf in America: voices from a culture. Harvard University Press. p. 119. ISBN 0674194241.
  5. Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2015. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Eighteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com.
  6. "Swedish Sign Language (TSP)". Start ASL. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  7. 1 2 Timmermans, N., & C. (n.d.) (May 1, 2016). "The Status of Sign Languages in Europe" (PDF). coe.int.

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