National Sign Language
Eesti viipekeel, EVK and Russian Sign Language
In English: Estonian Sign Language
Language Status: 5 (Developing).
Recognized language (2011, No. RT1, Language Act, Article 3(2)).
"Sign Language Legislation in the European Union", Wheatley, M., A. Pabsch., Edition II. Brussels, EUD, 2012:
"Estonian Sign Language was officially recognised on 1 March 2007. The process started in 2000, when a working group was formed. (..)
Two pieces of legislation explicitly mention Estonian Sign Language: the Language Act (Keeleseadus) and the Primary and Secondary Schools Act (Põhikooli ja gümnaasiumiseadus).
The Language Act recognises Estonian Sign Language as an independent language: not using 'sign language' as a generic term. It notes that signed Estonian is a mode of the Estonian (spoken) language (par. 1(3)):
(3) Estonian Sign Language is an independent language and signed Estonian language is a mode of the Estonian language.
Further, it states (Par1(4)):
(4) The state shall promote the use and development of the Estonian language, Estonian Sign Language and signed Estonian language.
Par. 2 "Scope of Application" mentions Estonian Sign Language again, explicitly stating that the Act regulates the Estonian language and the use of Estonian Sign Language, along with 'foreign languages', i.e. minority languages. the Language Act accords Estonian Sign language similar status as the surrounding spoken language, separating it from other minority languages in the country. (..)
The Deaf community in Estonia mainly uses Estonian sign language. A minority also uses Russian Sign Language. This is due to a large (hearing) Russian-speaking community in Estonia. To cover the needs of Russian Sign Language users interpreters from spoken Estonian into Russian Sign Language are available. The law, however, does not specifically mention Russian Sign Language"
Number of Deaf Sign Language Users
1,500 (EUD website, December 2016)
National Sign Language (Research) Centres
Work in progress...