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Afghan Sign Language

Afghan Sign Language (ISO 639-3: [afg]), also called AFSL or Afghan Sign, is used by approximately 34,700 signers in various provinces of Afghanistan including Balkh, Bamyan, Faryab, Ghor, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Parwan, Takhar, and Badakhshan.
In Kabul and Nangarhar provinces, there are schools that provide primary and secondary education to hearing impaired students entirely in Afghan Sign Language. In 2018, the Ministry of Education in Afghanistan oversaw 10 Inclusive Education Schools which enable many students with disabilities - including hearing impaired students - to study alongside hearing students.

Teachers in these schools are trained in Afghan Sign Language as well as other specialised forms of education to cater to the varying needs of all their students.
Afghan Sign Language is a fairly “new” language, with standardization and development beginning in the mid-1990s and language development continuing even today. The first official dictionary of 2000 words was published in 2001, a second edition with an additional 2,000 words was published in 2009, and work is ongoing for expanding the dictionary further. Work is currently underway to develop an Afghan Sign Language Grammar.

Various organizations have been integral in advocating for the use of Afghan Sign Language as well as facilitating education, training, and development. Those currently still active include the Afghanistan National Association of the Deaf (ANAD), Serve Afghanistan’s SHIP and EMAD programs, Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (CSA), and Family Welfare Focus (FWF).


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