Federal Republic of Somalia

  • Total Population

    17 million

  • Deaf Population


  • Nation's Official Language

    Somali, Standard Arabic

  • Other Languages

    The number of established languages listed in Ethnologue is 13.  Some of these are:

    • Dabarre
    • Garre
    • Maay
    • Swahili
    • Tunni
  • Name of Sign Language

    Somali Sign Language

  • Overview Of Deaf Community And Education

    The development of educational provision for deaf children in Somalia is complex. Before 1996 there appears to have been no school. Somali children attended the Wajir school for the deaf in Kenya where Kenyan Sign Language was used An Italian Catholic aid worker cared for disabled children in the Wajir area but later moved to Boroma in Somalia. One of the pupils from the Wajir School initiated some schooling in Boroma and the deaf school was started in 1997. The deaf man who founded the school in Somaliland was joined by two educated deaf women from Wajir, one of whom helped start a second school in the capital of Somaliland, the Hargeisa School for Deaf.

    Three more deaf men now teach in the two schools together with one partially-hearing man who has learned to sign and about a dozen hearing teachers. It is hoped to increase the proportion of teachers who are deaf. A further school is tentatively planned for Bossasso in Puntland, using SSL and STRIDE for training. The materials used in education appear to be those developed for Kenyan Sign Language

  • Sign Language Overview

    It is not clear to what extent Somali Sign Language is distinct from or a variant of Kenyan Sign Language. This has not been researched. There is no separate dictionary. In 2006 some action was undertaken in the form of a national meeting to develop a national sign language but further action is unclear.

    Efforts have been made to increase deaf awareness. Presentations have been made to many different groups including women's groups and teacher trainees. Both schools appear frequently on the local television programs. Teacher training has taken place via Kenya and Uganda.

    There is no assessment of the vitality of SSL.

  • Deaf Organizations In Country

    • Somali National Association of the Deaf (SONAD) (founded in 2007)

  • Overview of Interpreting Services

    There are apparently no official interpreters. Some teachers are able to act as interpreters and interpreters are sometimes found for official events.

  • Resources

    Woodford, Doreen E. (2006) "The beginning and growth of a new language - Somali Sign Language". Enabling Education Network. Retrieved December 6th, 2016. http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/somali_sign_language.php  


  • List of Contributors

    Eyasu Hailu Tamene, Anne Baker

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