Studies on Sign Writing

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Jul 7 22:59:50 UTC 2003

SignWriting List
July 7, 2003

On Monday, July 7, 2003, at 10:04 AM, David Tipton wrote:
> Two, my idea is to take someone that already knows sign language and
> someone that does not know sign language. Teach them both signwriting.
> Then give them some materials that they have not seen and ask them to
> read the sign writing to an audience that understands sign language.
> In theory they should be able to be understood equally well. This
> could benefit a library through story time readings and ultimately
> meeting the needs of a population that is not currently being served.
> What do you think? Are there any studies done like this?

I personally have experience with this kind of study, but it was not
scientifically done. Back in the late 1970's I taught Sutton
DanceWriting at the Boston Conservatory of Music's Dance Dept. But I
also had already developed SignWriting and wanted to test I
had some friends from NorthEastern University, which was down the block
from the Conservatory, to come over to watch this experiment. The
NorthEastern people were one deaf and one hearing, and they both worked
in Sign Language Linguistics and research at NorthEastern.

I explained to our guests from NorthEastern that my DanceWriting
students could read and write the symbols themselves, and that
MovementWriting is really one system with several
sections...DanceWriting and SignWriting are two of those sections. So
if MovementWriting really works, then dancers who do not know any
signed language, but who know DanceWriting, should be able to read and
produce the movements of SignWriting without knowing what they were
saying in Sign Language...and that is exactly what happened...our Deaf
guest was amazed because he could understand the dancers signing, even
though they didn't have a clue what the movements meant.

So I am absolutely positive, that if a person gets training in the
symbols, that they can read any movement...but there has never been an
official scientifically based study done like that...If you wish to do
it, I think that would be great!

By the way, there was also a good study done in Saudi Arabia with a
class of Deaf students at a school for Deaf boys...Mohamed, their
teacher, sent me the documentation on that and I am going to try to
find that now and post it on the web as a PDF document in the PDF
library online.

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at

1. SignWritingSite
Read & Write Sign Languages

2. SignBankSite
Sign Language Dictionaries

3. DanceWritingSite
Read & Write Dance

4. MovementWritingSite
Read & Write Movement & Gesture

5. Shop Online!
Proceeds Donated to Deaf Literacy

Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
tel: 858-456-0098....fax: 858-456-0020
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