Official Country Name
Republic of Benin
Number of Sign Language Users
Nation’s Official Language
The number of established languages listed in Ethnologue for Benin is 55. Some of these are:
- American Sign Language
- Ede Cabe
- Ede Idaca
- Ede Lje
- Ede Nago, Kara
- Fulfulde, Borgu
Name of Sign Language(s)
- Langue des Signes de l’Afrique Francophone (LSAF),
- American Sign Language (ASL)
- Langue des signes du Bénin (Benin Sign Language)
Overview Of Deaf Community And Education
The first deaf school in Benin was established in 1974 by the Christian Mission for the Deaf297. According to a recent WFD report, Benin had one state school for deaf children, and five private schools. The same report states that no sign language is provided in education (WFD 2008:67). However, sign language has been observed and documented in use in the deaf school in Porto-Novo. Also, an earlier WFD publication mentions that the sign language is used as the first language in education of deaf people and is recognized as the main means of communication between deaf persons and others (WFD 1997).
Sign Language Overview
No information is available as to how many people use this sign language. Also, no information is available on the kind of signing used by deaf people who have not attended deaf education. There is no information available on the variation in sign languages in Benin. In their Global Survey Report on West Africa, the WFD (2008:64, 68) mentions that the sign language used in Benin is ASL, but it is not clear if they considered LSAF.
According to Ethnologue302 (Simons & Charles 2018), the sign language used in Benin can be qualified as vigorous. The sign language used in Benin is recognized as the official language of deaf people (WFD 1997). Currently, there are no reports of sign language research being done at any of the universities of Benin.
Deaf Organizations In Country
Association Nationale des Sourds du Benin
Overview of Interpreting Services
Occasionally, informal sign language courses are organized for hearing people, including by churches. According to the survey of the WFD (2008:73,76), a small number of volunteer interpreters is available. These interpreters are often teachers at deaf schools. Once a week, there is a 20 minutes broadcast of the national TV that is accessible in sign language. (WFD 2008:62). There is no information available on the accessibility of health campaigns for sign language users.
Sign Language Resources In The Country
The sign language used in Benin is relatively well documented. One of the first dictionaries of LSAF was published in Benin (Tamomo, 1994).
A DVD dictionary of LSAF was published by Kamei (2008).
Three non-dated dictionaries were published by Sekpon
- Sekpon, Raymond (no date) (ed.) Écoute mes mains. Porto Novo: Editions ASUNOE
- Sekpon, Dodo, Florids Hounkpe, Paul Agboyidou, Abou Ahoe (no date) Mon livret de signes – Tome 1 Porto Novo: Association Universelle d’Oeuvres pour l’Épanouissement des Sourds
- Sekpon, Dodo, Florids Hounkpe, Paul Agboyidou, Abou Ahoe (no date) Mon livret de signes – Tome 2 Porto Novo: Association Universelle d’Oeuvres pour l’Epanouissement des Sourds
Carsten Mildner. 2019. Making Lives, Making Communities: Deaf Youth in Benin.
List of Contributors
Victoria Nyst (Leiden University)