Deaf in Jamaica

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

15 and Learning to Speak


Introduction / History

The members of the Jamaican Deaf community are located on the Caribbean island of Jamaica. The highest population is found in the capital city of Kingston with other significant populations found in Mandeville, St. Elizabeth parish, and Montego Bay. Though the exact number of signing Deaf people is uncertain, the national Deaf association has estimated that there are 27,000 people with hearing loss.

There are twelve Deaf schools and two vocational training programs. The national Deafassociation runs seven schools and one vocational program and religious entities operate the other five schools and vocational program. The association-run schools are pursuing a bilingual approach using both written English and Jamaican Sign Language (JSL), a natural signed language with a distinct grammar from English. Three of the religious schools, which are affiliated, use a Signed English/Total Communication approach (manual signs following English grammar and signing and speaking at the same time) while the other schools use Jamaican Sign Language. Few Deafstudents are mainstreamed into hearing classrooms.

Deaf Jamaicans often gather at Deafassociations, Deafclubs, social gatherings, and religious services where they use Jamaican Sign Language. There is one national Deafassociation, headquartered in Kingston. There are several Deafclubs and regular gathering places where Deafpeople socialize during the weekends. There are eleven Deafreligious services—three are evangelical and eight are Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Halls. Some churches provide interpreted services. There are few, or no, resources available in JSL although there are English-language books with biographies of DeafJamaicans.

Many DeafJamaicans have difficulty securing employment, but the people who do have jobs are often employed in Deafeducation, association-related, or manual labor positions. The Jamaican Deafcommunity is unified with a common identity and is very proud to have its own Jamaican Deafculture. Jamaican Deafpeople indicate that their primary community development needs are more skilled interpreters, a Jamaican Sign Language dictionary, and improved education.

Profile Source:   Anonymous  
Expanded PDF Profile

People Name General Deaf
People Name in Country Deaf
Population in Jamaica 0
World Population Unknown
Total Countries 216
Indigenous Yes
Unreached No
Progress Scale 5
GSEC 0  (per
Alternate Names
People ID 19007
ROP3 Code 114916

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Ethnologue Language Map

Primary Language Jamaican Sign Language
Language Code jls   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 2
Secondary Languages
Konchri Sain
People Groups Speaking Jamaican Sign Language
Primary Language Jamaican Sign Language
Language Code jls   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 2
Secondary Languages
  Konchri Sain
People Groups Speaking Jamaican Sign Language

Primary Language:  Jamaican Sign Language

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions No
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Resource Type Resource Name
Text / Printed Matter Door International
Primary Religion: Christianity
Religion Subdivision: Protestant
Major Religion Percent *
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 14.90 %)
83.00 %
Ethnic Religions
10.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
5.00 %
Other / Small
2.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
4.0 %
12.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
34.0 %
45.0 %
Roman Catholic
5.0 %
Photo Source David Bennett 
Profile Source Anonymous  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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