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Is Sign Language Universal?

Animated man holding flags from other countries

The nature and history behind sign language is fascinating. It’s common for people who do not interact with sign language regularly to wonder if it is a universal language, spanning many countries around the world. In today’s blog, Akorbi answers this question and gives insight for people wanting to know more about sign language. 

Is Sign Language Universal?

No, sign language is actually not universal. Across the globe, more than 300 sign languages are formally recognized. Also, a country’s spoken tongue does not dictate what signed language is used by the Deaf in that particular country. For example, hearing people in the US and UK speak English; however, if a Deaf person from the United States flew to London and met a Deaf person there, they would experience a communication barrier because American Sign Language is completely different than British Sign Language. Even the alphabet is different! 

Here’s an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G_RgBV5WiY 

Let’s turn back the clock. In the year 1815, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet traveled from the United States and met Laurent Clerc in France. Their collaboration led French Sign Language (LSQ) acting as a model as American Sign Language (ASL) took shape. Therefore, ASL grammar is closer to French Sign Language grammar than any other signed language. 

Another example of signed languages not depending on a country’s mother tongue are those from Hispanic countries. Even though countries like Venezuela, Honduras, and Argentina speak Spanish, the signed languages used by their Deaf people are different! Yes, Venezuelan Sign Language (LSV), Honduran Sign Language (LESHO), and Argentine Sign Language (LSA), are all separate languages!

Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UwLUnvcK8w 

When interacting with Deaf people, Akorbi can be present to provide clear communication. We’re here to ensure equal access and connect people to people!

Sign Language Interpretation Services

Our team at Akorbi is honored to offer services to ensure equal access for Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing individuals. We believe everyone deserves for their voice to be heard, whether it be in a business setting or personal circumstances. 

Akorbi specializes in providing ASL interpretation services for:

  • Health Care and Medical Providers
  • Criminal Justice Systems, Law Firms, Legal Services
  • Educational Systems and Services 
  • Financial Institutions 
  • Government and Municipalities 
  • Locally Owned Companies or National Organizations 

To learn more about Akorbi’s sign language interpretation services, visit our website and request a free quote today!


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Here’s what Akorbi is doing in response to COVID-19. Learn More »