National sign language: Egyptian Sign Language, LIM (Arabic “لغة الاشارة المصرية - lughat al-isharat al-Misriya”).
How many people use LIM : Information not available.
Do exist descriptions of LIM? There are some vocabularies online.
Is the LIM legally recognised? No.
Are there schools for the deaf in the country? Yes, around 113. First school: 1874 (?)
Bilingual education for the deaf available? No.
Are there deaf associations? Yes.
Are there certified sign language interpreters? Yes.
UN-Convention and its Protocol already signed and ratified? The Protocol is still to be ratified.
The national sign language of Egypt is called in Arabic lughat al-isharatal-Misriya (لغة الاشارة المصرية ) LIM (Egyptian Sign Language). How many people uses the LIM is not known.
After information given by Michailakis 1997 (see under "Accesibility") the Egyptian government recognises the LIM as the official language of the Deaf people in the country. This information is put into question by the World Federation of the Deaf in its survey of 2008 (see WFD&SNAD 2008).
In his data about the sign languages of the world, Harrington (2005?) mentioned a LIM Dictionary, published in 1984: Al-Qamus al-ishari, by Abd al-Hamid Suwayd. Again, the validity of this information is negated by the World Federation of the Deaf (see WFD & SNAD 2008), whose Egyptian informants claimed, there was not a LIM-Dictionary at all.
We have not found any more information about linguistic descriptions of the LIM.
The world wide web shows an intense organisation life of Deaf people in Egypt. Egypt also uses to be well represented in international meetings of the Deaf community. Nevertheless, the country is still not a full member of the WFDeaf (WFD, List of Members).
2.450 B.C.: Egyptian hieroglyphics told about an old man, named Ptahhotep, who deplored his hearing loss. That text is perhaps the oldest mention known of the name of a deaf person. During the following centuries abound quotations about deaf people and their gestural communication (see Miles 2005 for a detailed list)
1046-1049: News of a ritual to initiate the planting season, with protagonical participation of deaf people.
Nassiri Khosrau, a Persian poet who travelled through the Middle East between 1046 and 1049 A.C, wrote a very interesting description about the Egyptyan Deaf people (see Miles 2007). Annualy, at the beginning of the planting season (around june) an important ritual was performed: the dam, which had retained the water of the Nile, was broken, so the water could reach the growing fields at the river banks. In front of the dam numerous boats were placed, which should be washed away by the water. The first of these boats was filled with a crew of Deaf sailors who had been previously selected and paid by the Caliph.
The boat of the deaf was believed to bring good luck. The longer it went on the rushing water, the better would be the harvest that year. Miles (2007) finds in this narrative evidence that deaf people at that time led a social life, because communication and coordination on the boat only would be possible by the use of a language. The original source of this story is the French translation by Schefer of the writtens of Khosrau ("Sefer nameh": Relation du voyage du Nassiri Khosrau...1881), (see right picture). Thanks to the National Library of France, the book is freely available on the internet.
1874: According to the Volta Bureau Records there was a school for the deaf in Cairo. No further details are known (Source: Miles 2005).
1906: J. Iddleby Abdullah, a Syrian-British deaf teacher from Manchester opened by its own a school for the deaf in Cairo. It was a school for boys, located in a room of the Sharia Muhammed Ali. At its beginning, the school had a total of five children (see Lloyd 1910).
(left picture: Portrait of Abdullah J. Iddleby, 1898. Source: The Silent Worker, Vol. 10, Nº 8, 1898, p. 115).
According official data, in 2000 there were 111 schools for the hearing impaired in Egypt. In addition, several more classes for hearing impaired children worked within regular schools. The number of hearing impaired pupils in the that year amounted 12,797 (Sadek & Sadek 2000). The global survey carried on in 2008 by the World Federation of the Deaf reported the existence of 113 schools for hearing impaired children (see WFD & NSAD 2008). Following the last source, there is no bilingual (LIM-Arabic) classes in the country (WFD & NSAD 2008).
UN-Convention: Egypt signed the UN Convention and ratified it on April, the 14th 2008. The corresponding protocol has not been ratified (s. UN-Enable).
easy-to-read-texts: no information available.
Subtitles: A service of close-caption in public television is not available. (WFD & NSAD 2008:60).
LIM-Interpreters: In Egypt there is a number of certified sign language interpreters (mostly CODA´s), whose training is performed by local Deaf Associations (WFD & SNAD 2008:69-70). Neither the number of interpreters nor information about the nature of their training is available to us.
© Deaf-atlas, 2013