Published July 8, 2019
This video was recorded in Porvoo, Finland by Kristen Tcherneshoff and features signer Håkan. It is estimated that around 90 people have Finland-Swedish Sign Language (FinSSL) as their native language. The language emerged as its own distinct language around the end of the 19th-century, often credited to the Deaf school in Porvoo, Finland. The school originally used Swedish Sign Language as the medium of instruction, but a new sign language began to emerge, leading to FinSSL. Håkan was a student of the school, which shut down in 1993, leading to a decline of FinSSL use within Porvoo and Finland as a whole. FinSSL is considered moribund by Ethnologue, but there is a community of activists working to bring more awareness to FinSSL within Finland. The first FinSSL dictionary is underway, in a digital interactive form on SignWiki. In 2014, Finland recognized FinSSL as an endangered language and the following year it was recognized as a language under Finnish law.