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Countries That Use ASL 2023

It is common knowledge that many different spoken languages exist, such as English, French, and Chinese. Slightly less well known is the fact that sign language has multiple forms as well. Therefore, just as with spoken languages, two people attempting to communicate via sign language must not only know sign language, they must know the same sign language. For example, a person using American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with a person using Chinese Sign Language (ZGS) would have just as much trouble conveying their message as would a person speaking English to another who knew only Mandarin Chinese.

What Countries Use American Sign Language?

As the name suggests, people who use sign language in the United States generally use American Sign Language. Furthermore, there are approximately half a million people in the United States who claim that American sign language is their primary language. There are several other countries across the world that also use American Sign Language. Examples include Canada, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Importantly, American sign language is based on French sign language, but the two are not identical. There are also plenty of elements of local sign language that are wrapped up in American Sign Language. Therefore, French sign language is not the same as American Sign Language.

Is American Sign Language the Same as British Sign Language?

Even though Americans and British people can understand each other easily because they speak the same language, they do not use the same sign language. British sign language would develop during the late 18th century and the early 19th century. Then, it quickly spread to Australia and New Zealand. These islands used to be part of the British crown, and that is why they also use sign language. Over the years, British sign language has been influenced by Australia and New Zealand, but this form of sign language is nothing like American Sign Language. Therefore, anyone who goes to the United Kingdom and tries to use American sign language will be disappointed when they have difficulty communicating with someone else.

How Many Different Forms of Sign Language Are There?

It is difficult to say exactly how many different forms of sign language exist all over the world. In addition to American Sign Language and British sign language, there are several other comment examples. They include the Irish sign language, French sign language, Chinese sign language, Indian sign language, and Brazilian sign language. In all likelihood, there are dozens of forms of sign language worldwide, but these are just a few of the most common examples. Just as it can be difficult for someone to learn a second spoken language, it can be difficult for someone to learn another form of sign language as well. It requires a lot of practice for people to get used to using sign language.

- User populations for all countries are the best available estimates.
- For countries in which estimated user totals vary, the full range of estimates is shown in the Additional Details column.
- Estimated users indicate the number of individuals in the country who are either deaf or severely hard of hearing and who use ASL as a primary language.

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Estimated # of Users
Language Status
Additional Details
United States408,0005 (Developing)
Ivory Coast130,0005 (Developing) Estimates range from 77,000 to 155,000 users
Burkina Faso102,0006a* (Vigorous) Estimates range from 60,000 to 120,000 users
Haiti40,0006a (Vigorous)
Togo40,0006a* (Vigorous) Estimates range from 24,000 to 48,000 users
Canada38,0005 (Developing)Estimates vary widely, from 3,660 (2011 census) to 357,000 (2015 Canadian Association of the Deaf)
Mali25,0005 (Developing) Estimates range from 40,000–65,000 people with profound hearing loss, of which approximately half are assumed to use ASL
Central African Republic24,0006a* (Vigorous) Estimates range from 14,000 to 28,000 users
Benin12,5006a* (Vigorous)
Gabon7,0006a* (Vigorous) Alternate estimate places population at 2,000
Belize3,000Unestablished Alternate estimate places population at 800–1,600
Guyana2,0006a* (Vigorous) Estimates range from 1,500 to 3,000 users
Bahamas4006a* (Vigorous)
Grenada3406a* (Vigorous) Estimates range from 225–450 users
Barbados2906a* (Vigorous)
Saint Lucia2005* (Developing) Estimates range from 160 to 300 users
Guam1505 (Developing)
United States Virgin Islands1105 (Developing)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines1005 (Developing)
Cayman Islands655* (Developing) Alternate estimate places population at 50–200
Bermuda656a* (Vigorous)
Saint Kitts and Nevis405 (Developing) Estimates range from 40 to 100 users
Philippines5 (Developing)
El Salvador6b* (Threatened)
showing: 24 rows

How many countries recognize ASL as a language?

ASL is the most common type of sign language in the world and there are over 400K users of the language. Most countries have their own official sign language for their citizens and cannot understand other countries' sign languages.

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