ⓘ French Sign Language
French Sign Language is a sign language for deaf people. It is used in France. There are approximately 3.506.800 people living in France who are deaf. LSF differs from American Sign Language although there are many common signs.
Sign languages have existed in many places in the past. They came about naturally with deaf people and their relatives. But sign languages have existed among hearing peoples also. They were used by hunters to silently communicate around game animals. Native American peoples had a sign language that could be understood by Native Americans speaking as many as 40 different languages. Christian monks used sign language while living under code of silence. Factory workers and others in extremely noisy places use sign languages.
Charles-Michel de lEpee is considered the father of sign language. In 1771 he started the first free school for the deaf in Paris. He took in deaf students from many different places. Some came from Marthas Vineyard in the United States. There was a good deal of hereditary deafness there and the residents adopted their own sign language. Many came who used a local sign language. LEpee combined all these into a standard sign language. His sign language eventually developed into the French Sign Language and is widely used all over Europe.