Studies on Sign Writing

Ingvild Roald ingvild.roald at STATPED.NO
Tue Jul 8 10:45:07 UTC 2003

Dear David,

it is wonderful that someone want to do Library research on Sign Writing.

Unfortunately, I agree with James that even if you can learn to sign
single signs and even senteces from SignWriting, you do not really learn
the language  that way.I am afraid that the lack of reading to deaf
children in ASL or any other signed language cannot be bridged that easily.

Also, I am concerned about you experiment setup - have your advisors
really said it would be ok with just one person in each group? Your
results would then not be deemed scientificcaly valid. A group of a few
more people in  each group, though, would lend credibility to your
results. Then your experiment could help show that SignWriting is indeed a
way to learn how to read (and write) signed languages.

Another,  quite different library science question comes to mind: As the
signed languages becomes written languages, how would you go about
catalouging and indexing them? The symbol sequence exists, but at least
our Norwegian University LIbarary system know nothing about it, and it
would presumably be difficult to get the a program to sort. On the other
hand, dedicating a Dewey system number sequence, either in each country's
language number sequence or as a whole new set of sequences (but still as
langugaes, mind you), could be feasible. - At the moment, I am revising
the Norwegian 'Lessons in Sign Writing', whis has as it primary name the
sign for 'SignWriting' in NSL. The National Library system refuses that
name, and they insist on the Norwegian translation. I don't know if you
see any solution to this problem, which will be a pressing one in a few
years, I'm sure.

The best luck with your work,


>I am working on my Master of Library Information Science degree. Next
>summer (2004) I will be working on my final project/thesis. I have been
>talking to my advisors about an idea that I have. They think it might be
>First of all, have any studies been done on signwriting? I assume there
>should be a few. Where can I find them?
>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?
>Another idea, is to take to people that do not know sign language and
>teach one using traditional ASL dictionaries and the other with
>signwriting dictionaries and compare the results. I would suspect the
>signwriting dictionaries would be more beneficial and increase the
>learning rate. Again what do you think and are there any similar studies?

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