Brazilian Sign Language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Brazilian Sign Language
Native toBrazil and Brazilian diaspora
RegionUrban areas
Signers630,000 (2021)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3bzs
ELPLíngua Brasileira de Sinais

Brazilian Sign Language (Portuguese: Língua Brasileira de Sinais [ˈlĩɡwɐ bɾaziˈlejɾɐ dʒi siˈnajs]) is the sign language used by deaf communities of Brazil. It is also known in short as Libras (pronounced [ˈlibɾɐs]) and variously abbreviated as LSB, LGB or LSCB (Língua de Sinais das Cidades Brasileiras; "Brazilian Cities Sign Language").[3]

Recognition and status[edit]

Brazilian Sign Language is well-established; several dictionaries, instructional videos and a number of articles on the linguistic features of the language have been published. It has dialects across Brazil reflecting regional and sociocultural differences.

A strong sign language law was passed by the National Congress of Brazil on April 24, 2002, and (in 2005) is in the process of being implemented.[4] The law mandates the use of Brazilian Sign Language in education and government services.

Signwriting used on outside of school for deaf in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul

Educational approaches have evolved from oralism to Total Communication and bilingualism.

In addition to being recognized nationally since 2002,[5][6] Libras has also been made official at the municipal level in Belo Horizonte,[7][8] Curitiba,[9][10] Ouro Preto[11][12][13][14] and Salvador.[15] In Rio de Janeiro, the teaching of Libras was made official in the curriculum of the municipal school system.[16][17]

April 24th was made official as the National Day of Brazilian Sign Language.[18][19][20]


Libras fingerspelling uses a one-handed manual alphabet similar to that used by the French Sign Language family.[21]

There are 44 distinct handshapes used in the language.[3]


Sutton SignWriting is the dominant writing system in Brazil.[22] A master's in linguistics dissertation titled "A arte de escrever em Libras" by Gabriela Otaviani Barbosa found that SignWriting is used in 18 Federal Universities and in 12 public schools in Brazil.[23][24]

Historical efforts were commonly transcribed using Portuguese words, written in upper case, to stand for each equivalent Libras morpheme.[25]

Transcription of Libras signs using SignWriting has been in place since at least 1997 with the SignNet Project in Porto Alegre and Fernando Capovilla's dictionaries in São Paulo. The University of Santa Catarina at Florianopolis (UFSC) has required courses in SignWriting as the preferred form of LIBRAS transcription.

SignWriting is cited as being useful in the pedagogy of young children.[26]

The Federal University of Santa Catarina has accepted a dissertation written in Brazilian Sign Language using Sutton SignWriting for a master's degree in linguistics. The dissertation "A escrita de expressões não manuais gramaticais em sentenças da Libras pelo Sistema signwriting" by João Paulo Ampessan states that "the data indicate the need for [non-manual expressions] usage in writing sign language".[27]

In film[edit]

In September 2017, new Libras accessibility requirements took effect in Brazil mandating availability of Brazilian Sign Language for films shown in Brazilian movie theaters. Sign language is displayed to moviegoers on a second screen device.[28] Sign language is stored as a Sign Language Video track in the Digital Cinema Package (DCP), synchronized with the rest of the film.[29] Sign Language Video tracks have no audio and are encoded as a VP9-compressed video encoded in PCM audio stored in Sound Track 15 of the DCP.[30]

Deaf and sign language organizations[edit]

The most important deaf organization is FENEIS, the Federação Nacional de Educação e Integração dos Surdos (National Federation of Deaf Education and Integration). There are a number of regional organizations in Curitiba, Caxias do Sul and Rio Grande do Sul.


Wittmann (1991)[2] posits that Brazilian Sign Language is a language isolate (a 'prototype' sign language), though one developed through stimulus diffusion from an existing sign language, likely Portuguese Sign Language and/or French Sign Language.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brazilian Sign Language at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ a b Wittmann, Henri (1991). "Classification linguistique des langues signées non vocalement." Revue québécoise de linguistique théorique et appliquée 10:1.215–88.
  3. ^ a b Ferreira-Brito, Lucinda and Langevin, Rémi (1994), The Sublexical Structure of a Sign Language, Mathématiques, Informatique et Sciences Humaines 32:125, 1994, pp. 17–40
  4. ^ Libras law (in Portuguese) Archived April 26, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Lei que institui a Língua Brasileira de Sinais completa 20 anos, Agência Brasil
  6. ^ Lei que reconhece Libras como língua oficial do país completa 20 anos, Câmara Municipal de Mata de São João
  7. ^ Vereadores aprovam lei que reconhece Libras como língua oficial de BH, O Tempo
  8. ^ Reconhecimento oficial de Libras pelo Município é aprovado em 1º turno, Câmara Municipal de Belo Horizonte
  9. ^ Lei Nº 15.823, de 06 de abril de 2021, Leis Municipais
  10. ^ Aprovado reconhecimento da Língua Brasileira de Sinais em Curitiba
  11. ^ Aprovado projeto de Lei que reconhece oficialmente a Libras em Ouro Preto, LIBRASOL
  12. ^ Aprovado Projeto de Lei que reconhece oficialmente a Libras em Ouro Preto, Câmara Municipal de Ouro Preto
  13. ^ Aprovado Projeto de Lei que reconhece oficialmente a Libras em Ouro Preto, Mundo dos Inconfidentes
  14. ^ Aprovado Projeto de Lei que reconhece oficialmente a Língua Brasileira de Sinais (Libras) em Ouro Preto, O Espeto
  15. ^ Lei Nº 7862/2010
  16. ^ Agora é lei: Escolas da rede municipal terão ensino de Libras
  17. ^ Lei nº 7391/2022, de 31 de maio de 2022
  18. ^ 24 de abril é o Dia Nacional da Língua Brasileira de Sinais
  19. ^ Comunidade surda comemora sansão do Dia Nacional da Libras
  20. ^ 24 de abril - Dia Nacional da Língua Brasileira de Sinais
  21. ^ "Libras manual alphabet". Archived from the original on 2006-02-07. Retrieved 2005-12-26.
  22. ^ Costa, Edivaldo da Silva (2018). "Tendências atuais da pesquisa em escrita de sinais no Brasil". Revista Diálogos (RevDia). 6 (1): 23–41. ISSN 2319-0825.
  23. ^ Barbosa, Gabriela Otaviani (2017). "A arte de escrever em libras". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. ^ "A vida em Libras – Signwriting – Escrita de Sinais". TV Ines.
  25. ^ Paiva, Francisco Aulísio dos Santos; De Martino, José Mario; Barbosa, Plínio Almeida; Benetti, Ângelo; Silva, Ivani Rodrigues (2016). "Um sistema de transcrição para língua de sinais brasileira: o caso de um avatar". Revista do GEL. 13 (3): 13, 21–24. doi:10.21165/gel.v13i3.1440.
  26. ^ "Aquisição da Escrita de Sinais por Crianças Surdas através de ambientes digitais" (PDF). Sign Writing.
  27. ^ Ampessan, João Paulo. "A escrita de expressões não manuais gramaticais em sentenças da Libras pelo sistema Signwriting" (PDF). Repositório UFSC.
  28. ^ "Accessibility & The Audio Track File". Cinepedia. Retrieved 14 November 2023.
  29. ^ "Deluxe Launches First Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS) Localization Service Outside Brazil". Cision PR Newswire. Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc. through Cision PR Newswire. 18 Sep 2017. Retrieved 14 Nov 2023.
  30. ^ "Recommended Guidelines for Digital Cinema Source and DCP Content Delivery" (PDF). Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema. 2018-03-29. Retrieved 2023-11-14.


  • Gama, Flausine José da Costa: Iconographia dos Signaes dos Surdos-Mudos.[Iconography of Signs for the Deaf-Mute]. Rio de Janeiro : E.+H.Laemmert 1875
  • Capovilla, F. C., and W. D. Raphael, eds. 2001. Dicionário enciclopédico ilustrado trilíngüe da Língua de Sinais Brasileira: Vols. 1 (Sinais de A a L) & 2 (Sinais de M a Z). [Trilingual illustrated encyclopedic dictionary of Brazilian Sign Language, Vols. 1 and 2] São Paulo: Edusp, FAPESP, Fundação Vitae, Feneis, Brasil Telecom. Volume One: ISBN 85-314-0600-5 Volume Two: ISBN 85-314-0603-X
  • de Souza, Guilherme Lourenco. "Verb agreement in Brazilian Sign Language: morphophonology, syntax & semantics." (2018). Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais: doctoral dissertation.
  • Lourenço, Guilherme. "Verb agreement in Brazilian Sign Language: Morphophonology, syntax & semantics." Sign Language & Linguistics 22, no. 2 (2019): 275–281.
  • Xavier, André Nogueira and Sherman Wilcox. 2014. Necessity and possibility modals in Brazilian Sign Language (Libras). Linguistic Typology 18(3): 449 – 488.