Burkina Faso

  • Total Population

    19 million (2018 estimate) 

  • Deaf Population


  • Number of Sign Language Users

  • Nation's Official Language


  • Other Languages

    The number of established languages listed in Ethnologue for Burkina Faso is 71. Some of these are:

    • Biali
    • Birifor, Malba
    • Bisa
    • Bolon
    • Bomu
    • Buamu
    • Dogon, Tomo Kan
    • Karaboro Estern 
    • Karaboro Western
    • Konabere
    • Koromfe
    • Marka
  • Name of Sign Language

    Langue Signes l’Afrique Francophone (LSAF), American Sign Language (ASL), Langue des Signes Burkinabe or Mossi 

  • Overview Of Deaf Community And Education

    Burkina Faso has four deaf schools (Granier et al., 2015). The first school for the deaf was established in 1960 by the Christian Mission for the Deaf308 (Carroll & Mather 1997). In 1987, the deaf school named L'institut des Jeunes Sourds du Faso (IJSF) was opened in Bobo Dioulasso. In 1988, Pastor Abel Kafando established the inclusive CEFISE school where deaf and hearing children are taught together in Ouagadougou (Imerovic 2006). Together with Ghana, Burkina Faso is one of the two countries in West Africa that provides deaf education up to university level305 (WFD 2008). The WFD2 (2008) survey indicates that there are no schools specifically for deaf children in Burkina Faso, but this is perhaps only correct in the sense that there may be no schools exclusively for deaf children in view of the inclusive set up of the schools in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso.

    The medium of instruction at the CEFISE school is Total Communication. Imerovic further reported that there is no special training for teachers at deaf schools offered by the government. Therefore, the CEFISE school offers a training program to its teachers. CEFISE also offers sign language training to parents. A recent newspaper article confirms the continuation of this inclusive approach, reporting 500 deaf pupils on a total of 3.800 pupils in 2017.310 The same article mentions that deaf school teachers from neighboring countries come to Ouagadougou for training and that the school also offers sign language courses for parents.

  • Sign Language Overview

    Two sign languages are used in Burkina Faso. A local variety of Langue des Signes de l’Afrique Francophone and the locally evolved Burkina Sign Language or Langue des Signes Mossi (Kamei, 2006). The number of deaf signers is estimated by the deaf association at 55.500 (WFD 2008:49). No official census data are available. A common cause of deafness is meningitis. (Bourcheix, 2006).

    The documentary Adama, the Fulani Magician presents a lengthy portrait of a deaf magician from Ouagadougou who communicates in the local sign language312 (Rosellini, 1998).

    Bladwijzer niet gedefinieerd (2006), in her thesis on deafness in Burkina Faso, devotes an entire chapter to her study of signs commonly referred to as natural signs. These are locally evolved signs used by deaf people who have not attended deaf education. She collected such natural signs with 75 signers in eight villages across the country, resulting in a collection of about 900 signs. Bourcheix does not present an inventory of the signs she collected, but discusses the data collection, the type of variation found in the signs and the position of the deaf participants in their villages.

    Currently, there are no reports of sign language research taking place at one of the universities of the country.

  • Deaf Organizations In Country

  • Overview of Interpreting Services

    According to the WFD (2008:73, 74, 52), there are generally no interpreters available. Interpretation may occasionally be available at major events, such as the presidential elections in 2010. This was criticized by the deaf community for being done in Langue des Signes de l’Afrique Francophone only, and as such not being intelligible for deaf Burkinabés who had not attended deaf education (Bourcheix 2010:40).

  • Sign Language Resources In The Country

  • References

    Kamei, N. (2006) The Birth of Langue des Signes Franco-Africaine: Creole ASL in West and Central French-speaking Africa. Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan.  

    Granier, Anne-Lise , Jean Dagron, Pierre Debeaudrap. (2015) Les Sourds : une population particulièrement vulnérable aux pratiques sexuelles à risque en Afrique de l’Ouest. Colloque Franco-Latinoaméricain sur le Handicap, Dec 2015, Santiago du Chili, Chili. <hal-01656940>  

    Rosellini, Taale Laafi (1998) Adama, the Fulani Magician. Santa Cruz, California: African Family Films.  

    Nyst Victoria.A.S. (2010) Sign languages in West Africa. In: Brentari D. (red.) Sign Languages - A Cambridge language survey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  

    Kafando, Abel (1990) Les mains qui parlent. Introduction à la Communication manuelle au Burkina-Faso.  

  • List of Contributors

    Victoria Nyst (Leiden University)

Burkina Faso Flag
Name sign of Burkina Faso
Name sign of Burkina Faso