History of SgSL

History of SgSL

Signed languages are visual-manual languages that are natural to the Deaf community. The structure and grammar of signed languages may differ from the spoken languages in the general society. Signed languages are not a visual representation of spoken languages; they exist as separate languages. Signed languages do not refer to miming and gestures, though it does incorporate these elements, just as spoken languages do.

Similar to spoken languages, signed languages develop independently based on geographical location and events occurring to the community. For Singapore Sign Language, the Deaf education landscape can be studied to recognise its linguistic influences.


Shanghainese Sign Language was introduced in Singapore. The Singapore Chinese School for the Deaf was established in 1952.


American Sign Language was introduced in Singapore School for the Deaf.


Signing Exact English II is a signing system that was adopted as the mode of instruction in Singapore School for the Deaf.


Singapore Sign Language adopted in the Deaf education in signing-designated mainstream schools.

(Native) Singapore Sign Language

Singapore Sign Language was only adopted in schools in 2018 but has existed as the language of the local Deaf community before that. The Deaf community previously referred to it as native sign language. In 2009, the language was named Singapore Sign Language (SgSL). SgSL consists of local signs and is believed to be mainly influenced by the signed languages and signing system used in the deaf education system above.