Deaf in Laos

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

There are an estimated 40,000-60,000 deaf people living in the country of Laos. Most were born to hearing parents and therefore were not exposed to sign language during infancy or even early childhood, a critical time for the brain to naturally develop language ability. These deaf children do not have the opportunity to learn Laos Sign Language until they attend one of the schools for the deaf that are located in just a few cities such as Vientiane and Luang Prabang, two of the larger population centers in Laos. Sadly, only 2-3% of the deaf population ever receive this opportunity, and of those who do attend most drop out before the ninth grade. Of the 97% of deaf people in Laos who are unable to attend the specialized schools, most will remain languageless because a written language is very difficult to learn without the ability to hear. Most deaf students will only acquire a minimum of vocabulary words from the written language. This results in an acute sense of isolation from the hearing world of family and the local community.

Fortunately, there are a number of organizations dedicated to helping the deaf of Laos continue their education and develop vocational skills such as motorcycle and bicycle repair, weaving and cooking. Not all teachers are skilled communicators in Laos sign language as there is no specialized teacher training available for those who work with the deaf. Teachers will often use a blend of oral and total communication approaches depending on their level of proficiency.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Because Christianity is very much a minority worldview in the country there is little recognition of basic Christian concepts. About 3.7% of the population are considered Christian with 2.5% being evangelical.

There are hundreds of hearing congregations in Laos but only two for the deaf community.

There are two believing congregations using Laos Sign Language: one in Vientiane and the other in Luang Prabang.

What Are Their Needs?

Two of the greatest needs the deaf in Laos are early exposure to sign language and the opportunity to attend schools. One organization is helping to create dictionaries and educational materials, though much work remains.

There is no scripture in Laos Sign Language. When presented with the Gospel most Deaf find it confusing. And for those who are believers, they lack confidence in sharing the Gospel feeling that they have a limited understanding of it themselves. Although they desire to learn more about their faith there is no one to explain it to them in their language. They are eager to have a Bible translation in their language as well as Bible study materials they can access.

Any written or spoken language is very difficult for the deaf of Laos to acquire, so fluent bilingualism in not a realistic option except for a very few. Slightly more than 50% of the hearing population uses Lao as their first language with the remainder using ethnic minority languages.

There is an urgent need for the development of basic educational materials as well as a Bible translation. Pastoral training is also needed to expand understanding of scripture.

Prayer Points

Scripture Prayers for the Deaf in Laos.

Profile Source:   Anonymous  

People Name General Deaf
People Name in Country Deaf
Pronunciation def
Alternate Names
Population this Country 76,000
Population all Countries 49,661,000
Total Countries 216
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 0  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 2
People ID 19007
ROP3 Code 114916
ROP25 Code 301989
ROP25 Name Deaf
Country Laos
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 21  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Country Laos
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 21  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
57.29 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
3.38 %
Ethnic Religions
35.00 %
0.00 %
0.10 %
4.20 %
Other / Small
0.03 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Laos Sign Language (76,000 speakers)
Language Code lso   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Laos Sign Language (76,000 speakers)
Language Code lso   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Laos Sign Language

Primary Language:  Laos Sign Language

Bible Translation Status:  Translation Needed

Resource Type Resource Name Source
None reported  
Photo Source (Representative photo)
Faysal Khan - Pixabay 
Map Source Anonymous  
Profile Source Anonymous 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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