Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sign writing in ASL

Sign writing in ASL

Up for anything new? How about writing in ASL? Can ASL become a written language on paper? Should ASL have a written form? I don't mean GLOSS or anything that uses the Alphabet belonging to the aural language. I mean a written system entirely for sign language in the USA. Sign writing in ASL. How about it? If you are interested in that sort of thing, continue below. :-)

This blog (in English, of course) is an opportunity to discuss the need for a written system for American Sign Language (ASL). My MA Thesis under the Deaf Studies Department at Gallaudet University is titled, "A Proposal Of the Written System For ASL". I hope I have placed properly the references below and have not fallen short any protocol to recall the sources. Here's the excerpt from the opening statement of my thesis:

"This proposal answers the often overlooked need for a written system for American Sign Language (ASL), and how that need leads to the creation of a new ASL writing industry. The proposal also justifies the claim for such a need by showing how, historically, writing systems have come to build cities and societies, roads and opportunities, literature and the entertainment industry. Above all, this proposal demonstrates how all written forms have become wholly phonetic-based systems representing phonetic language, thus leaving sign language, which is visually based, without a written form. This begs the question: in a world where there are over 3,000 languages, with a third having a written version (“Writing Systems of the World,” 2003.), where is the written system for a language of visual modality? This lack of a written system for ASL is a calling to establish one. Furthermore, this proposal examines past and current attempts at establishing a written system for sign language, in addition to elements of writing, and explores why this new system is ideal compared to past attempts."

The thesis discusses lingual colonialism in the mind and education of deaf people and how many see no need for a written system since there is one already out, the English writing system, for the American deaf people. This sort of 'already out there' is an unconscious act of dependency on the language having been taught, thus this became a colonizing pedagogy not of and by ASL and not deaf centered, through the curriculum written by society at large.

Also at issue is the identity created and maintained from writing. As a writer I often sat down to write stories with one troubling question that hung in my mind, back and front, besides me and on the screen...if I cannot write in my own language, then who am I?

More excerpts from the thesis below:


What this (the question of Who am I?) means is that when writing a novel or story, "I search for a word to better fit the message I had in mind. The message was an image, an idea, a thought, yet it was without language. There were two languages I knew: ASL and English. ASL was my main language; therefore, the thought was picked up by ASL. Since ASL has no formalized written system, English took the reins and became the vehicle of passage from thought to written word. As old practice went, I searched for an English word to best fit the idea so eloquently expressed in ASL. More often than not I had to rethink the idea as I stripped it of its ASL version, manipulating it under the influence of English, before I could put the thought on paper. I was continuously doing translation work, careful to not compromise the message.

"This developed an acquiescent purpose of ASL, which allowed a dangerous precedence to emerge: linguistic colonialism."

Recipe for linguistic colonialism

"To possess none a written form of one’s native language is a perfect recipe for linguistic colonialism. Linguistic colonialism is the result of several forces, most notably the education policy as written in English, therefore becoming a language policy as well. This policy dictates a curriculum where English is the language of education, reading, writing, and so on, which creates a dilemma for ASL users. Until Stokoe published his findings that ASL was indeed a language, ASL was not placed in the curriculum as a study or as the language of the classroom, a practice that continues even to this day. Only upon the discretion of each school – often within deaf teachers’ classrooms – has ASL been the language of instruction.

"It is important to note regarding the lack of the written system for ASL is concerned: For those who cannot read and write (English, for example) a book or any other written document this becomes a clear indicator of “their own ignorance and powerlessness; of which fact the educated few can and, of course, do take advantage.” One of the most important consequences of writing is that it is “a powerful instrument of social control (Coulmas, 2003).”

"Remarkably, I wasn’t alone in this struggle in my writing. In 1962, an author in South Africa echoed this sentiment. In his essay, The Language of African Literature, Ngugi Wa Thiong’O wrote that he was invited to a historic meeting of African writers at Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda. To his dismay, the conference – ‘A Conference of African Writers of English Expression’ – excluded Africans who wrote only in African languages—Swahili, Zulu, Yoruba, Arabic, Amharic and others. With the “exclusion of writers and literature in African languages (Ashcroft, Griffiths, & Tiffins, 2006),” the writers of English expression conferees sat down to begin discussing the opening item on the agenda: “What is African Literature?”

Literature greatly reflects a culture and language, beliefs and philosophy, politics and economy. What better way to preserve all of this, our own identity in print, and forever? By that, all of this will then spawn greater studies in literature, economics, politics, and so on in academic setting by the hundreds in a short time--that all of this was written by deaf hands anywhere across the US and the world.

The thesis has 4 chapters. Chapter 3 discusses the construct and structure of the written system and introduces the Digibet. The Digibet is a set of written symbols of hand shapes. The Digibet's counterpart is the Alphabet for the spoken language's written system. It is important to acknowledge the purpose, properties and structure of the language of visual modality, and how it differs from that of the aural modality.

As I begin my quest for the written system for ASL, I hope you readers shall join me in this endeavor to make this a possibility. Your ideas on how to make this possible are welcomed. I cannot do this alone, for this language belongs to our deaf/ASL community, and we alone can write ourselves into the pages of society.

R W Arnold

27 comments:

Kim said...

This is intruiging. Stuck with the task of interpreting an child's storybook into ASL Gloss, I can't help agree with you. The English use of colorful adjectives and adverbs doesn't translate well to ASL. Likewise the ASL use of expression/movement doesn't translate to English in written form so effectively. It would be wonderful for ASL to exist in a written form. I'm thinking it could be pictographic, like Chinese characters, rather than being based on letters and phonics.

Go to http://zhongwen.com/

Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

Before I make any comment, have you looked into SignWriting (http://www.signwriting.org)?

Joseph Pietro Riolo
josephpietrojeungriolo@gmail.com

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

janiscortese said...

This is quite interesting to me; I've always found it strange that people were so quick to assume that ASL literally couldn't be written. Spoken language was around for millennia before anyone thought to code it visually, and many nonliterate peoples still consider written language to be nearly magical. ASL can be written, without a doubt. I admit that my own interest is a selfish one, since as a learner, I know that I would appreciate a written form like a parched person would appreciate a glass of water. It would make it far more portable and possible to practice the intake of the language while alone and in another modality. That would boost learning as well as cultural and literary development.

Shel said...

I suggest you contact Dr. Sam Supalla of the University of Arizona about a writing system he devised for ASL.

Joseph Pietro Riolo,

Signwriting is actually a writing system devised by a dance choreographer, and I understand it has been developed with English outcomes in mind, so is signwriting a valid written system for ASL? Also, in order to have ASL as a written system, you have to take in account handshapes, location, movement and palm orientation, not to mention nonmanual signals. Does signwriting include the above?

Janis Cortese,

You are correct in that spoken language was around a long time before any written system was devised. The Sumerians were the first to create a written system: the cuneiform, a wedge-shaped writing system that wasn't phonetic in basis.

Shelley

RWArnold said...

Hello,

Thanks for your comments. I'll reply to all three comments.

I have a friend who is interested in writing children's books. We went to grad school together at Gallaudet. When he saw my proposed written ASL he wanted to write children's book in written ASL rather than in English. I agree with you about the loss of meaning when words gets translated. And, yes, I'm introducing a new term, the Digibet, the written handshape symbols for writing. The Digibet is the written symbols for ASL (sign languages) whereas the Alphabet is the phonetic symbol for the aural language.

Joseph Riolo, I'm familiar with SignWriting. I developed the written ASL system before I even heard about Sutton's SignWriting and Sign Font, including Bebian's proposed written system for the French deaf nationals in 1825. The three are discussed in my thesis.

Janis Cortese, I agree. I see much industry in the written form of ASL. The job opportunity for deaf English majors will be ten-fold once the system is widely adopted. They can serve as English translators and editors for ASL/English translation and help pave the way for the ASL/any language dictionary.

Thank you for your comments. I plan to put up further information about this writing system and answer common questions asked to me during my research.

RWA

RWArnold said...

Hello Shel,

Your post came up a minute before mine did. :-)

Sam and I are aware of our work. :-)

And, yes, being that I'm an ASL teacher and writer for years I've considered all the ASL rules and writing rules. Writer and ASL user/teacher makes for a fine batch for this system. I did not invent anything new but I mapped out what's already in ASL grammar and rules into symbols and diacritics to properly represent them in writing. As for writing, here were several stages of the development of writing over the centuries, from the Sumerian to present day writing , of which I have covered in my thesis. The fork began when writing went from picture writing to phonetic writing. Now we have to build on that other fork, the missing arm, for visual language writing. It is crucial to have both set of writings to represent two modality--visual and aural that can be widely recognized and studied, that many would not have to confused sign language as some sort of equal member for spoken language (probably as a cause and result of linguicism). Once we make clear that there are two modality of languages on earth many will finally come to respect sign language as equal but separate form of language on earth that has its own grammar machine to convey and record thoughts.

The written form can become visible evidence for centuries to come.

RWA

RWArnold said...

Kim, I apologize for not mentioning your name in the first part of the recent post about children's book translation.

Thanks, Kim, and hope to hear any further comments later.

RWA

Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

To R. W. Arnold,

Is it possible for you to make your thesis available to us? That way, we don't have to ask you questions if the answers are already in your thesis. For example, the phonetic-based approach is not the only one that is used in a writing system. Other writing system can be based on ideas called ideogram. Why you chose a particular approach for a writing system for ASL can be explained in your thesis.

I have not heard of Digibet. Is there any information on Internet that can tell more about it?

To Ms. Shelley Potma,

Signwriting includes symbols for handshapes, location and movement. I am not sure about palm orientation and nonmanual signals. It is not necessary for a writing system to be exactly identical to a spoken or signed language. For example, the writing system as used for the spoken English language has only 26 letters while the spoken English language has 44 different sounds. The sound of 'n' can be represented as 'gn' as in gnat, 'kn' as in knife, 'mn' as in mnemonic, 'n' as in not, 'ne' as in done, 'nn' as in runner, and 'pn' as in pneumatic. The spoken English language does not use capitalization while the written English language does.

I am a little familiar with the writing system as developed by Dr. Sam Supalla but my understanding is that he did not intend it to be a full-fledged writing system. It is used only as a bridge from ASL to the written English language for young kids and once the young kids develop the basic skills in reading and writing the written English language, his writing system is then discarded. Think of it as a disposable writing system. But, my main problem with his writing system is that he has complete control over it and does not allow anyone use it without his permission. I am not interested in letting my works put under his control.

Joseph Pietro Riolo
josephpietrojeungriolo@gmail.com

Shel said...

RWArnold,

Like Joseph, I am interested in seeing your thesis. I'm most especially interested in seeing the Digibet, especially since I am presently teaching ASL as the language of study to kindergarten and grade 1 kids at my school. I don't claim to be an expert in ASL linguistics...far from it, actually. I would call myself a student at this point.

Mr. Joseph Pietro Riolo,

Thank you for your explanation re: signwriting. I see what you mean about it not being necessary for a writing system to be exactly identical to a spoken/signed language, and agree. However, I would like to see palm orientation included as I feel it's a very important parameter to include in writing. Unfortunately, I'm told that in the study of ASL linguistics, palm orientation is almost uncharted territory. I would like to see more research done on this. As for nonmanual signals, I can imagine they are very difficult to put down in writing, unless someone succeeds?

I am familar with Sam Supalla's work, and you're correct in that Supalla's goal for this writing system being a bridge to English, and that it could be considered in the context of a disposable writing system. Therefore, if it's a disposable writing system, that means we really DON'T have an actual permanent writing system for ASL at the moment.

As for his having complete control over the ASL grapheme writing system and not letting anyone use it without his permission, you're absolutely correct. You mentioned your works. You got my curiosity snagged. Could you tell me a bit about your works, if not on this blog, then on yours if you have one?

Shelley

RWArnold said...

Riolo and Shelly,

I plan to give a condensed version or parts of my thesis since it's 116 pages. I will figure out the best way.

The Digibet is a new term I'm introducing for the written system symbols for sign language. It is not in any official definition body or publication...yet. Hopefully it will be soon.

The five parameters of ASL has been included in the writing system plus default symbols mainly for writing. The NMS (non-manual signals) are not difficult to write in. The palm orientation, however important in signing, is contextual and that leaves for the reader to interpret this. It may sound impossible or difficult but it isn't. True, writing is not a tool of pronunciation but to convey thoughts.

I know, I've gotten you curious and am not having anything to show for yet but hang in there and soon I can put up images. 116 pages on this won't do, I think.

RWA

Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

I want to clarify what I meant by "my works" in response to Ms. Shelley Potma’s comment.

I used the term of "work" as understood by the U.S. copyright law. A work could be a written story, a signed story recorded on a videotape, a painting of ASL signs and so on. Suppose that I want to use Dr. Sam Supalla's writing system and suppose that I have his permission to use his writing system, my written story using his writing system is not completely under my control because the symbols that are written still belong to him while the story still belongs to me. My story becomes entangled with his intellectual property rights. This is unlike many alphabets that are totally free from any intellectual property rights or any iota of ownership. No one can claim ownership in the symbols that I used to write this comment.

I always think that it is always bad idea for any writing system for any signed language to have any intellectual property rights or ownership as claimed by an individual, individuals or an entity. There is no consensus among the scholars and lawyers who are expert in intellectual property rights on whether a new writing system can be copyrighted or owned by an individual or entity.

I am sorry that I misled Ms. Potma in thinking that I have materials about developing a writing system or written in any of the available writing systems (other than some practice in SignWriting). I have none of them. I always dream of a writing system that is totally free from all kinds of intellectual property rights and ownership but this seems to be impossible because I am influenced by many ideas.

Joseph Pietro Riolo
josephpietrojeungriolo@gmail.com

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

Shel said...

RW,

I look forward to seeing your images of your Digibets Are you working with other people on this new written system?

Joseph has a point about a written system being the intellectual property of one person. It does make it difficult for the written system to grow and evolve. When I think of other written systems for other languages, I note they are not the intellectual property of any single person. Thus, the written systems grow and expand exponentially, like a living spoken language.

Obviously, your long term goal is for ASL to have a long term writing system rather than a temporary one. I was told by a colleague that several Americans had problems with Supalla's works, and now I begin to see why.

Joseph,

Thank you for clarifying your comment. This has been an interesting discussion.

I look forward to more of the same in the near future.

Todd said...

I wrote a little bit on this subject almost a year ago;

Using ASL Gloss

Adam said...

I realize that there has been some questions here about SignWriting. As an avid writer with SignWriting, I can tell you that it not only makes use of symbols for handshapes, location and movement. It also does for palm orientation and nonmanual signals. In fact, that is one of the reasons that I decided to use SignWriting because it is great in recording expressions of all sorts.

Although Ms. Valerie Sutton did invent most of the symbols in her use to write dance movements, SignWriting has evolved into what it is because of Deaf users. I have also noticed that there have been several people who think that Ms. Sutton has the rights or whatever with the system. She has told me herself that she feels that would be ridiculous if it is to be a wide spread writing system.

I realize that there are several people that would like to have information about SignWriting, but don't want to go searching for it. I have been doing some work to try and set up a weekly online broadcast class in which I would answer peoples questions with video. However, in the mean time if you have any questions, feel free to send me an email (or IM) from my website: http://frostvillage.com/eng/contact me.php. (Sorry for my messy website. I have been doing some work on it in the little time that life allows me to.)

Adam

RWArnold said...

The Question of Space and Other Things In Writing ASL

The question of ASL writing has popped up with a few recurrent areas of concern: spatial referencing, the use of NMS (Non-Manual Signals, or facial/body expressions) and Palm Orientation.

The three, as far as I can address as a writer and reader, has been confronted and worked out in this proposal I have for the community.

Spatial usage: As many have questioned the foremost issue of the use of space in sign language, how can this be applied to writing?

Answer in a three-letter word: map. The map of the world, of the country, of the state, of the town, of the region, of a building, a microcosm, the atomic structure…has been used for centuries. Is the world flat, the atoms flat? The map says so. No. We already know the world and atoms aren’t flat. Therefore, we apply this pre-existing knowledge to map land and objects as we navigate across the land by sea, land or air; or in the science lab. The usage of symbols for the maps to represent three dimensional space are the compass, the longitude and latitude and altitude. In writing, we use diacritics to address those three dimensional mapping of writing symbols. Readers use contextual interpretation in reading messages the way pilots read the map. It's a two-way relationship where authors writing novels has come to become related with readers. Like pilots, readers navigate through the bodies of passages.

The question of Non-Manual Signals in writing:

Simple. We establish a common pattern of NMS for wh question expressions, yes/no question expressions, topical expressions, classifiers expressions and head nodding/shaking diacritics to punctuate in the sentences of the sentence similar to quotation marks. They help guide the sentence the same way signers move their hands in the areas below their eyebrows. Since NMS guides the whole expression of sign language inasmuch as voice inflection guide aural conversations (and sometimes are used as italics in writing) this writing system has the NMS to guide inflections in signing. And, how it has been made simple is the use of patterns in establishing the charts of ASL parameters. Those and the parameter charts can be easily taught.

The question of palm orientation: Like voice inflections and contextual interpretation, the palm orientation--however contrary to popular opinion, is not that crucial for writing. There are other ways to hint at palm orientation. It is the same with the lack of tongue positions in the mouth for spoken/aural languages. Writing is not to explain how to pronounce words but to recognize words to understand the message.

I also have included the left-handed and right-handed Digibet charts. This helps establish the dominant/support hand digibets. An example, left-handed signers “Southpaws” use the left-handed dominant Digibets in writing. This is a new dimension we can bring into the world of writing. Readers can then detect that the author is a left-handed signer or right-handed signer. As seen in the trials of writing during my study, the left-handed signer relates to the left hand digibets better than the right hand digibets. Should I argue with the Southpaw?

This adds to the three dimensional writing. The possibilities are endless. That’s what writing does. Right?

Here, we write because we want to convey thoughts. We don't write to explain how we produce/pronounce words. Other sign writing systems are bogged down with this notational expression.

More rules (not notational but expressive rules) makes for better language discipline and word-play. This elevates the language to the higher level of double interpretations enjoyed so much in puns, idioms and word play in the spoken language. It is because there are rules. Without rules language is simply to function as servants of thoughts. Robert Frost once said that poetry without rules is like playing tennis without a net. I believe that writing will greatly enhance the qualities of ASL, that it will bring upon linguistic rules and study, and elevate ASL to a new realm of consciousness. With the net up, we will have idioms, puns, word play, genres, and quotes-on-the-classroom-walls popping up.

This is not the writing to call my own; this belongs to our ASL/Deaf community and to our youth of tomorrow. They deserve this L1 (first language) acquisition in writing as well as in manual lessons. This will help record their thoughts at home and any place other than the classroom, that this will help teachers of ASL to understand and study the language development progress that will reflect the language cognitive process. Above all, this will bridge the young ASL users to the English language in writing, that they can bridge and compare the two on pages outside of the classroom, and in the homes where the majority of their parents are English users. Parents can also learn some of the ASL in writing.

All begins in the home. What is more literate pervasive in a home than written forms? Parents can finally magnetize their child’s writings on the refrigerators.

RWA

janiscortese said...

Quick note here if this conversation is still really active -- I have a feeling that the best way of developing a writing system for ASL is to develop a halfway system that works okay and then hand it to a bunch of little kids for about twenty years.

The reason I bring this up is because I think (but could be wrong) that Sutton signwriting is being used to teach literacy to little kids in Nicaragua in deaf schools. (This is a pretty famous situation where deaf kids were brought together for the first time in Nicaragua to attend all-deaf schools in a formal education setting, and as kids do, they pretty much created NSL out of whole cloth among themselves and without direction from the mostly hearing teachers.)

Anyhow, I believe they are using signwriting to teach the kids there. It's not an ideal system for any reason, but handing it to a school full of little kids and letting them knock the rough edges off for a generation is probably the best way of developing any language or modality. It would be worthwhile to see what's happening with signing literacy in Nicaragua, to see how signwriting is evolving in the hands of its young users.

RWArnold said...

Hi Janis,

Yes, that's the plan I'm working on. Your suggestion is right on. I had to give it a few field tests before I could go ahead with my thesis, and then go public. The responses from my demonstrations at various places were enthusiastic.

I expect this early model to evolve over generations. I have allowed such flexibility yet solid foundation to set in place so the writing system won't compromise ASL as a whole.

RWA

mustangdan15 said...

I found this entry while searching for any information on a writing system for ASL. How has your project gone? Do you have plans, R.W. Arnold, to post this system up anywhere on the Internet or somewhere where it can be easily accessed by anyone? I'm learning ASL, and it would help to have a system of writing, which would be easier for me to remember, but I also believe that native ASL users should be able to write in their native language.

Stuart Thiessen said...

I agree 100% that the time has come for sign languages to have a written form like any other language. Hearing people have had audio communication (phones, records, tapes, CDs, etc.) for over 100 years. Yet, it has not reduced their need for writing. So, why should we expect that video will reduce the Deaf need for a writing system for sign languages? Writing is simply another tool for communicating information.

Now, I have not seen all of your system so I have no way to know how well it handles different situations. I also have been thinking on this subject since the late 80's. I've investigated every writing system for sign language that I have been able to find. So far, of the systems I have explored, SignWriting has been the most flexible and easy to teach system that I have found.

SignWriting does not have any English outcomes at all. It is simply a method of writing sign languages that happened to be invented by a hearing person. Essentially, with SignWriting, you write the movements that you see. Once Valerie got a basic system in place, she promptly moved to California to meet Deaf of Deaf. Over the last 20+ years, she has been working to get Deaf feedback and improvements to the system. So it is very much a system that has had significant Deaf input.

One particular benefit I like about SignWriting is that it can be used for any sign language in the world. In other words, once I have learned SignWriting, I can apply the same exact symbols to read/write in Kenyan Sign Language or Argentine Sign Language or any other sign language in the world. Similarly, they would be able to learn to read my ASL documents because the symbols are the same.

A side benefit of SignWriting's evolution from a DanceWriting system is that SignWriting can also handle mime that naturally occurs in signing. Stokoe, HamNoSys, and even SignFont cannot take mime into consideration. When recording true ASL storytelling, mime is an essential part of the story and must be recorded. So any system of writing for a sign language needs to have the flexibility to record the movements of mime.

Having said all this, I still would be interested to see what you have developed. :)

TStone said...

I have been seriously programming computers since I was 10. Three years ago, I set out to learn ASL. What hampered me the most was not having a computer-typeable method of ASL transcription to aid my memory. So I ended up creating one for my personal use.

At this time it has become so useful to me that I was hoping it might be of use to others. I came across your blog "Sign writing in ASL" discussion about "not writing to explain how we produce / pronounce words". I feel that most English words at least started out as phonetically spelled. As some words got more use and others got borrowed, the language grew. I still feel that the ability to sound out most of the words on a page is the most important aspect of written language.

I would like to know if my non-English code for jotting down signs might be of use in this area. It is designed with the minimal amount of codes that would be required to "sound out" an ASL word so that it is recognizable by an average signer. All the codes are assigned to English alphabet letters for mnemonics. I have written about this code at http://aslsj.com and http://aslsj.blogspot.com/. - Tom 08:11, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

b0xy said...

Reading through this, I realize that your thesis is directly related to a work I am writing myself. I would be very intrigued to read through it in its entirety. Have you made your thesis available yet for us to read?

CODAMan said...

I read through about half of these and scanned through the rest. If i say anything that someone else already said, then i apologize for it now.
The notion that ASL cannot have a written format seems absurd to me. I am a CODA and work in a school for the deaf with elementary age children. Over the past few years in this environment and seeing how the students learn, I am realizing more and more that they need to learn a system for reading and writing ASL. I think that would bridge the gap to reading and writing English (which is an aim of bi/bi ed) much more easily. For spoken languages, written symbols primarily serve as a representation of the sounds made in that language. It seems to me that these symbols are all arbitrary, when you think about how it is something visual to represent something audible. From that line of logic, wouldn't it be easier to use something visual to represent something that is also visual?

I took a brief look at SignWriting and was pretty well pleased with what I saw. It is a visual representation of a visual language. One thing I have noticed about it that i did not like was that some of the symbols are difficult to write manually. Many symbols are not arbitrary, and seem to take a long time to write on paper manually. Could this be a reason why it has not caught on with the majority of Deaf people in America? I have yet to see it used in deaf ed, either. I'd like to know more on this myself. Heck, I may even attempt to come up with my own writing system for ASL. It would be unofficial of course, but it could easily further prove that signed languages can just as easily have a written counterpart.

CCACaptioning said...

3/11/2011 - any update on this? any website showing any suggested written form for ASL?

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stuart Thiessen said...

@CCACaptioning: Of all the writing systems for sign languages that I know, SignWriting is the (only?) one that is used the most for everyday writing purposes. I think people are too afraid to make the time to learn it and don't realize that it is easier to learn than they think. And, I think it is probably one of the most mature writing systems for sign languages since it has been around since the 70's and 80's. They've had a lot of Deaf feedback and they continue to be open to feedback.

Yes, more work is needed in the area of making it computer-friendly and providing more resources to help people handwrite it, but those are not insurmountable obstacles by any means. And they are making progress in those areas.

Dedalvs said...

Glad to hear about a new system! I developed a kind of phonetic alphabet for sign language in general back when I was in graduate school called SLIPA. You can read about it here. I still have some looking over to do, but so far, I like si5s better than SignWriting for ASL.

Frith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.