Republic of Madagascar

  • Total Population

    26,956,000 (Ethnologue, 2020)

  • Deaf Population


  • Nation's Official Language(s)

    French, Merina Malagasy

  • Other Languages

    The number of established languages listed in Ethnologue is 14. Some of these are:

    • Arabic
    • Malay
    • Morisyen
    • Swahili
  • Name of Sign Language

    Malagasy Sign Language (MSL)

  • Overview Of Deaf Community And Education

    According to the Joshua Report, out of these 200,000 deaf people, about 1,800-2,500 use Malagasy Sign Language which they learnt at school. The rest of the deaf people live in isolation without access to school.

    According to the WFD survey report in 2008, there are nine deaf schools in Madagascar. Seven of them are sponsored by the Lutheran church and other two are private. Total Communication is used in these schools. The same report states that the education settings of deaf people in Madagascar are mostly limited to vocational training. According to the Joshua Report (2011), no deaf student has been to the university due to lack of interpreters.

    The “Institute for Deaf-Mutes”, the first deaf school in Madagascar, was established in 1950 by Pastor Erick Børgenvik from Norway. It was originally located in Loharano, near Antsirabe. In 1957, it moved to Antsirabe.

    Another school, AKAMA (Akanin'Ny Marenina, Antananarivo, Madagascar) was established in 1985 sponsored by CBM (Overseas Disabilities Charity, previously known as Christian Blind Mission) as well as the Malagasy Lutheran Church. They currently have 130 students up to Grade 8. They also provide basic vocational training in carpentry, needlework and tailoring.

  • Sign Language Overview

    Ethnologue classes the status of Malagasy Sign Language as ‘developing’ but also states that it is vigorously used by Deaf people of all age. Malagasy Sign Language is not recognized by the government.

    The National Federation of the Deaf and the schools organise courses on MSL. DVD and dictionaries exist. There has been little research on the language, except for Minoura (2008, 2012) which looked at word order in MSL.

    Similarities between Malagasy Sign Language and Norwegian Sign Language have been reported but no research has been done.

  • Deaf Organizations In Country

    • The Federation of the Deaf in Madagascar (FMM)

  • Overview of Interpreting Services

    There are 30 interpreters but these are volunteers. There is no National Association of sign language interpreters.

    On national television the news is interpreted at midday, as well as a 20-monute programme on Sunday that offers sermons and songs in Malagasy Sign Language. Some health campaigns, for example about water, have been interpreted as well.

  • Resources

    “Deaf in Madagascar” 

    World Federation of the Deaf and Swedish National Association of the Deaf. 2008. Global Survey Report. WFD Regional Secretariat for Southern and Eastern Africa (WFD RSESA).   

  • List of Contributors

    Anne Baker

madagascar flag
Name Sign of Madagascar
Name Sign of Madagascar