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The estimated deaf population in Nicaragua, at 600,000, far exceeds the estimates in surrounding countries. There is only one deaf association in the country: Asociación Nacional de Sordos de Nicaragua (ANSNIC). ANSNIC is focused on providing a place for deaf people to meet, support each other, and develop the community. In addition to ANSNIC, deaf people meet at religious services and with at least six known deaf ministries meeting in the capital city of Managua. Since its emergence in the late 1970s with increased deaf interaction in deaf schools, the government has recognized Nicaraguan Sign Language (ISN) as the first language of the deaf community, approved the use of ISN in deaf classrooms in 1993, and helped publish the first ISN dictionary in 1997. In 1997, ANSNIC estimated that there were 3,000 ISN users in Nicaragua with most others having little access to a developed sign language. ISN continues to gain prestige and acceptance in the general Nicaraguan community and the number of ISN
users grows as ANSNIC pursues unification of the deaf people throughout Nicaragua.