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Haiti Deaf Community and Sign Language: First official description

The first known description of the Haiti Deaf community and sign language, in collaboration between Deaf Haitians and American linguists.
Series of photos with a Haiti Deaf community member demonstrating their sign language to a linguist. The captions with each photo explain that the Deaf Haitian man is explaining why it is not appropriate to describe LSH as being a variant of ASL because LSH is its own language.

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Sign language linguists have researched sign languages for only a few decades. But already, they have analyzed dozens of sign languages around the world. Despite this, there are still some sign languages overlooked by linguists. Linguists only now pay attention to the Haiti Deaf community and sign language.

Deaf Haitians and linguists collaborated to begin research on Haitian Sign Language (LSH). Meanwhile, Deaf Haitian community members participated in every stage of research. Now, authors Julie Hochgesang and Kate Mcauliff have written the first description of LSH by linguists. They describe the Haitian Deaf community and the research process. LSH is almost like American Sign Language. But the Haitian Deaf community say their sign language is a separate language. Furthermore, the authors support their judgment.

This article explains the history of the Haiti Deaf community and sign language. It also describes local culture, norms, family, Deaf community activity, and so forth. After explaining the research method, it provides long and detailed descriptions of LSH. It also includes many photos of people producing signs in LSH.

The authors published this article in 2016. It appears in the Volume 16, Number 2 issue of the Sign Language Studies. We could not assess if this PDF file is accessible for people using screen reading software. For example, we could not learn if alternative tags describe the images for people who cannot see.

Learn about the situation of Deaf people in Haiti during disasters. Or also explore other resources about sign language research around the world.

Click here to show & hide the transcript with descriptions


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