This chapter aims at presenting an overview of sign language transmission and use in three Southern European countries in the Mediterranean area: Greece, Italy and Spain. As will become clear, the reality of signers and the vicissitudes of deaf education and sign language recognition are roughly comparable in the three countries, which is mainly amenable to the social and political similarities among them. In some aspects, the shared features differentiate them from Northern European countries, but at the same time the evolution observed is parallel to those of Western countries, albeit at a different pace at times.
The sign languages present in these countries are the following: Greek Sign Language (GSL; Ελληνική Νοηματική Γλώσσα, ΕΝΓ/Elinikí Noimatikí Glósa, ENG) in Greece; Italian Sign Language (LIS, Lingua dei Segni Italiana) in Italy, Spanish Sign Language (Lengua de Signos Española, LSE) in Spain and Catalan Sign Language (Llengua de Signes Catalana, LSC) in Catalonia. Here we will adopt the established acronyms in the spoken languages of the respective countries, except for the Greek case, where we use the English acronym for typographical unification.
Research about different aspects of these languages is relatively recent and it often covers partial areas. The results presented in this chapter are mainly obtained from the existing literature, but also from interviews and observations collected in the contact with the respective Deaf communities.