Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD)


The Launch of the Ghanaian Sign Language Dictionary

Ghana’s Ministry of Education has finally launched the harmonized Ghanaian Sign Language Dictionary and accepted it as teaching material in schools. The 3rd edition dictionary, which is an initiation of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf in partnership with Peace Corps Volunteers aims at promoting harmonized Ghanaian Sign Language in the country as part of efforts to improve teaching and learning for deaf children and learning of a harmonized Ghanaian Sign Language in Ghana.

There is no denying the fact that local languages play a critical role in the education of young children and in achieving an effective educational outcome. Local languages for example serve as channels for the transmission of culture and knowledge. It is for this reason that in some countries including Ghana, formal education in the first three years of schooling is conducted in local languages.

The same is true for children who are deaf and hard of hearing and whose first language is sign language. For Deaf children, sign language does not only make communication between the teacher and deaf child easy but also serves as a pathway to gain access to, produce and transmit culture and knowledge and participate in family and community life.

The past few years have seen global efforts to promote language access for deaf people. In some African countries such as Uganda and South Africa, sign language is recognized in their national constitutions and or policies. However, in Ghana, sign language is yet to receive such official recognition even though it has been accepted and used in public functions, as a medium of interaction at meetings. One of the key challenges is the absence of a harmonized Ghanaian Sign Language and or the absence of an acceptable learning material that can facilitate harmonized communication and teaching and learning.

It is in recognition of the above that in partnership with Peace Corps Volunteers developed the harmonized Ghanaian Sign Language Dictionary. The work, which spans from 2015 involves the collection of lexicographic data from diverse backgrounds. The final production was done in 2019. Fortunately, the USAID provided funding for the printing of the 10,000 copies of the dictionary and handed it over to the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Services.

Tuesday’s formal launch of the harmonized dictionary by the Deputy Minister of Education made the Ghanaian Sign Language Dictionary a formal document acceptable for use in all government schools in Ghana. The launch also demonstrated the government’s commitment to promoting the teaching and learning of Ghanaian sign language and the use of Ghanaian Sign Language as a medium of communication. This has brought Sign Language advocacy a step ahead.

The GNAD remains grateful to the Ministry of Education, the Special Education Division, Peace Corp, and UNICEF. The association is also grateful to the staff and management of Tetteh Ocloo School for the Deaf and all other honorable dignitaries who graced the launching of the harmonized Ghanaian Sign Language (SL) Dictionary.  Sincere thanks to all those whose hard work has brought this GhSL dictionary production to a success. In particular, we thank the Peace Corp shooting and editing team (2015 – 2017). GNAD is thankful to the Ghanaian Deaf models who spent their time modeling for this dictionary. It would never have come this far without you. GNAD truly acknowledges and values your efforts.

Of course, “society can truly be inclusive when persons of all categories can participate and function in such society and that is why the ability to communicate within the society is crucial and significant.

Hits: 389


  1. Gloria Godsway Akumia

    This is wonderful
    I pray GES will put this in the school curriculum and it should be one of the subjects that can be examined.
    It should also be part of the core subjects so that from basic school level to SHS level will be able to know and use the sign.
    This is a very good initiative.

  2. Gloria, hhmmmm
    The Ghana Education Service- GES launched the Ghanaian Languages of Instruction- GLOI to encourage students in their formative years to learn using their local languages. I guess the ‘local language’ of Ghanaian Deaf children should be Sign Language.

    According to the Ghana News Agency- GNA (Nov. 2020), Dr. Peter Attafuah, the Northern Regional Director of Education indicated at the launch of the GLOI program in Tamale that “we need to help the children to read and write in their languages so that they can translate whatever they learn into English, to enhance their development and academic performance”.

    I believe and hope this dictionary will vigorously be factored into the basic education curriculum for Deaf children so that as Dr. Attafuah indicated, these Deaf kids will be taught to read and use their local language (SIGN LANGUAGE) using this dictionary. Their L1 is Sign Language: their local language is Sign Language: and thus, following the GLOI model, they must be taught to use the Sign Language before translating it into English and not force the English Language which may be their L2 upon them in their young formative years.

    GNAD, Ayekooo. Thumbs up!! Keep going 👍


    This is in fact the best news I have ever heard. Recruiting the Ghanaian sign language into schools and making it a compulsory subject at all levels will be a great way for the deaf in this country to be able to communicate with non-deaf students. All the best to GES

  4. Charles Afenya Mantey

    Good for this mega launch. I only hope this initiative will benefit learners with deafness in the areas of real inclusive practices across key areas of our education such as:
    1. Creative pedagogies
    2. All levels of assessment and
    3. Accessibility ♿ of these dictionaries to regular teachers and especially examiners.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *