Austrian Sign Language
Österreichische Gebärdensprache (ÖGS)
Native toAustria
Native speakers
8,000 (2014)[1]
French Sign
Language codes
ISO 639-3asq

Austrian Sign Language, or Österreichische Gebärdensprache (ÖGS), is the sign language used by the Austrian Deaf community—approximately 10,000 people (see Krausneker 2006).


ÖGS and Hungarian Sign Language seem to be related for historical reasons (First School for the Deaf in Vienna), but HSL forms a cluster with neighboring languages rather than with ÖGS.[2] Although there are no detailed studies of the extent of relatedness, ÖGS shares aspects of its grammar with German Sign Language and Swiss Sign Language, while the vocabulary differs (see Skant et al. 2002); [3] Wittmann (1991) places it in the French Sign Language family).


Linguistic research on ÖGS started in the 1990s and is primarily conducted at the University of Klagenfurt[4] and University of Graz.[5] The Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (AAU) worked on the "Deaf learning" project[6] (September 1, 2015 – August 31, 2018) financed under Erasmus+ as a cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices, strategic Partnerships for adult education aimed at deaf adults with Austrian Sign Language as their first natural language and the German written language as their second language with the aim of raising the level of literacy. The program was expanded by Eramus+ after its completion to promote achieving higher social, educational and financial positions through better access to the written language proficiency with the "Deaf language awareness"[7] project (September 1, 2018 – July 7, 2021) by developing online courses for independent learning in ÖGS and written German text.[8]

Legal aspects

After a 15-year effort by the Deaf community, ÖGS was legally recognized by the Austrian Parliament on September 1, 2005.


ÖGS Fingeralphabet

ÖGS possess hundred of signs, of which 26 signs represent single letters similar to the basic written German alphabet, 3 signs represent letter-diacritic combinations (Ä/ä, Ö/ö, Ü/ü) using the umlaut and 1 sign represents the German "sch" (trigraph). As an initiative from the European Social Fund in Austria[9] and Equalizent,[10] an online video dictionary was created to teach the Fingerspelling and the most common signs with the help of a 3D-Avatar called SiMAX [11] from Sign Time.


The Austrian Deaf community is represented by the Austrian Federation of the Deaf (the Österreichischer Gehörlosenbund).[12]

There is one nationwide association for professional interpreters of ÖGS.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Austrian Sign Language at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Bickford, 2005. The Signed Languages of Eastern Europe
  3. ^ Skant, Andrea (2006). "Curriculum für einen Universitätslehrgang "GebärdensprachlehrerIn" mit Online-Modulen für schriftliches Deutsch" (PDF). Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  4. ^ Forschungszentrum für Gebärdensprache und Hörgeschädigtenkommunikation Archived August 9, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Arbeitsgruppe für Gebärdensprache Archived March 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Deaf learning: National language programmes for deaf adult". Deaf Learning. 10 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Deaf language awareness". Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Research and Project descriptions for ÖGS - University of Klagenfurt". Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  9. ^ "European Social Fund (ESF) in Austria". European Social Fund in Austria. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  10. ^ "equalizent: Schulungs- und Beratungs GmbH".
  11. ^ "SiMAX Avatar".
  12. ^ ÖGLB | Österreichischer Gehörlosenbund
  13. ^ OeGSDV - Oesterreichischer Gebaerdensprach-DolmetscherInnen-Verband

Further reading