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Israeli Sign Language

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Updated November 28, 2009

Israel has had its own sign language, Israeli Sign Language (ISL) for many years. It began in the 1930s at a Jewish school for the deaf in Jerusalem. Here are some resources for learning about, or learning, Israeli sign language.

1. A Language in Space: The Story of Israeli Sign Language

Published in September 2007, this book focuses on the linguistic structure of Israeli sign language and the signing community of Israel.

2. Israeli Sign Language Resources at Gallaudet University Library

If you live in the Washington, D.C., metro area, the Gallaudet University library has the following Israeli sign language resources:
  • Observations on Israeli Sign Language, by Jonathan Shumary. Published in 1968 by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • Gateway to Israeli Sign Language, by Havah Savir. This is a rough translation of the Hebrew title. Published in 1992.
  • Social Background of the Israeli Sign Language, by Jonathan Shumary. Published in 1969 by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

3. Dictionary of Sign Language of the Deaf in Israel

This Israeli sign language dictionary was published by the Ministry of Social Welfare. The ASIN number is B000MQACAA. The text is in Hebrew. According to Sela.org, an effort was/is underway to produce a CD/DVD version of an Israeli sign language dictionary.

5. Academic Articles on Israeli Sign Language

Israeli Sign Language articles have been published in Sign Language and Linguistics.
  • The Medium and the Message: Prosodic Interpretation of Linguistic Content in Israeli Sign Language. Volume 2, number 2, 1999. Abstract online.
  • Thematic structure and verb agreement in Israeli Sign Language. Volume 2, No. 2, 1999. No abstract online.
  • Syntactic-semantic interaction in Israeli Sign Language verbs: The case of backwards verbs. Volume 1, No. 1, 1998. Abstract online.

6. Israeli Sign Language in Deaf Education

A few articles have been published about the use of Israeli Sign Language in deaf education. One such article is Communication Mode and the Processing of Printed Words: Evidence from Readers with Prelingually Acquired Deafness, from the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, vol 7, number 4, Fall 2002. This study looked at how written words were processed. Abstract and Full Text Download.
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