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For this rapid appraisal survey, we wanted to gain a basic understanding about the sociolinguistic
situation of the Ecuadorian deaf community. During four weeks of fieldwork in January and February of
2011, our survey team focused on gathering information about sign language use and deaf identity in
Ecuador in 11 cities in cooperation with national Ecuadorian deaf leaders and local deaf community
members. In addition, we gauged the needs and desires of the language community for future
community and sign language development efforts. Our research methodology included participant
observation, sociolinguistic questionnaires, wordlist comparison, and dialect network analysis.
Initial results indicate that Lengua de Señas de Ecuador (LSEC) is the primary sign language of
Ecuador, with significant historical influence from old Ecuadorian signs, American Sign Language (ASL),
and a variety of sign language from Spain. Evidence points to geographical region and age being the two
primary sociolinguistic variables influencing perceived and actual LSEC variation. Quito’s LSEC variety
appears to be the most influential and easiest to understand variety and Quito offers the most resources
and opportunities to deaf Ecuadorians. Government support of the deaf community is strong, and while
LSEC still lacks official recognition, the Federación Nacional de Sordos del Ecuador (National Federation
of the Deaf - FENASEC) and the entire Ecuadorian deaf community is committed to both community and
LSEC development as currently evidenced by the current LSEC dictionary project.