Guinea-Bissau: the birth of a language – 11 April 2019

Date:                11 April 2019

Time:               17:00 – 18:30

Location:        Leiden University, Lipsius 3.08

Languages:     International Sign

Translation     English


Guinea-Bissau: the birth of a sign language

MARTA MORGADO, Leiden University


  • A brief history of Guinean Sign Language
  • Showing children’s book “Mamadu, the deaf hero”
  • And screening of the documentary ‘The birth of a language ‘Lingua Gestual Guineense’ (50min)


Until recently, deaf people were largely ignored in Guinea-Bissau, having no access to language, education, or even an official identity. In 2003, the first school for the deaf was opened. Initially, about fifty deaf students joined at the school. This number has since increased to more than 400 nowadays. This school has been the major meeting place for deaf people from all over the country. The conditions for the development of GBSL were also improved by the regular contact between different age groups and by weekly activities among students and deaf adults of the Deaf Association, founded in 2006.