Icelandic Sign Language

The Icelandic Sign Language is the sign language of the deaf community in Iceland. It is based on the Danish Sign Language. Until 1910, deaf Icelandic people were sent to school in Denmark, and the languages have diverged since then. Icelandic Sign Language is officially recognized by the government of Iceland and is regulated by a national committee. 

Icelandic Sign Language is distinct from spoken Icelandic. In the basic Icelandic curriculum for the deaf, Icelandic Sign Language is the first language of deaf people while spoken/written Icelandic is the second language. Therefore, deaf Icelanders often learn Icelandic Sign Language as their first language and Icelandic as their second language.

The manual alphabet used in Icelandic Sign Language is signed using one hand. The manual alphabet is used when a signer does not know the sign for something they are trying to express, or for things like names, streets, places, companies or abbreviations.

Táknmál is the Icelandic word meaning “sign language.”

In June 2011, Icelandic Sign Language was officially recognized as a first language. The law now states that Icelandic Sign Language is the first language of those who must rely on it for expression and communication, and of their children. The government authorities shall nurture and support it. All those who need to use Icelandic Sign Language shall have the opportunity to learn and use Icelandic Sign language as soon as their language acquisition process begins, or from the time when deafness, hearing impairment or deaf-blindness is diagnosed. Their immediate family members shall have the same right.