Kingdom of Morocco

  • Total Population

    36 million

  • Deaf Population


  • Nation's Official Language

    English, French

  • Other Languages

    The number of established languages listed in Ethnologue is 15. Some of these are:

    • Arabic
    • Ghomara
    • Tamazight
    • Tarifit
  • Name of Sign Language

    Moroccan Sign Language (MSL) or Language des signes du Maroc/ Langue des signes marocaine (LSM)

  • Overview Of Deaf Community And Education

    The first school for the deaf was founded in 1957. There are now 56 schools for the deaf.  Some MSL signs are used in Total Communication programs. Signed versions of different spoken languages (Arabic or French are used by teachers, and they may introduce signs from ASL and LSF or other foreign sign languages. Moroccan Sign Language is used in three programs for the deaf, but not throughout the country: It is not used in the large cities of Rabat, Tangier, or Casablanca, for example.

  • Sign Language Overview

    Moroccan Sign Language (MSL) is the language of the deaf community of Tetouan and some other cities of Morocco. It was apparently based on American Sign Language introduced by the Peace Corps volunteers in Tetouan around 1987, but mixed with signs used by the local population. There is less than a 50% lexical similarity with ASL. It is not clear if such signs came from home sign or an established village sign language. 

    In Oujda, near the Algerian border, Algerian Sign Language is used, or at least the local sign language has been strongly influenced by it.

    Moroccan Sign Language was recognized in 1994 in national legislation. The language has also been strongly influenced by LSF. LSF appears to be intelligible to signers of Algerian Sign Language.

  • Deaf Organizations In Country

    • The Association Marocaine des Sourds.

  • Overview of Interpreting Services

    There is no qualification for interpreters. They are mainly volunteers. There is very little interpretation on television. No information on health is available in Moroccan Sign Language.

  • Resources

    Soudi, Abdelhadi & Vinopol, Corinne. (2016). A Digital Moroccan Sign Language STEM Thesaurus. LREC 2016, Tenth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation, Portorož, Slovenia, 28 May 2016. Workshop Proceedings p189-190  

    Wismann, Lynn & Walsh, Margaret. (1987). Signs of Morocco. Rabat, Morocco: Peace Corps Morocco  

    World Federation of the Deaf and Swedish National Association of the Deaf. (2008). Global Survey Report. WFD Regional Secretariat for Arab Region (WFD RSAR). Global Education Pre-Planning Project on the Human Rights of Deaf People. World Federation of the Deaf. Finland. Gunther.Maya (2015) “The Institute for Disabilities Research and Training Inc. (IDRT) partnered National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop interactive software to translate and teach Moroccan Sign Language”.   

  • List of Contributors

    Arssi Abdelaziz, Anne Baker

Name Sign of Morocco
Name Sign of Morocco