[sw-l] Deaf education

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Aug 26 17:53:10 UTC 2004

> I am currently studying ASL and Linguistics and I am interested in
> going
> into Deaf education.  I have learned some about signwriting, and am
> curious as to how much it is currently being incorporated in the
> schools.
> Does it look to have a successful future and become increasingly
> popular?
> Does it express the writer's intent clearly to the reader?  From what I
> understand, this form of writing has begun to be used in the
> classrooms of
> young Deaf children to assist them in learning English.  Has this been
> successful, or is it too early to know?
> Thanks for your time,
> Amy Johansen


Dear Amy and Everyone!
A member of our SignWriting List alerted me to your message, Amy. Thank
you. And I am sending this answer to both the SLLING and SW Lists. If
you would like to join the SignWriting List, write to me personally and
I can give you instructions:

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at SignWriting.org

Regarding SignWriting in Deaf Education...Yes. It is used in classrooms
for young Deaf children in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in other
countries such as Germany, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, and well...the list
goes on...27 countries are using SignWriting in research or education.
And the teachers in Albuquerque, New Mexico continue to use SignWriting
with their Deaf students, year after year, because it is a tremendous
help to them. I can put you in touch with the teachers individually if
you wish.

Here is information on our SignWriting Literacy Project, which donates
free SignWriting materials to teachers and students who request them.
So anyone is welcome to write to me about this:


SignWriting Literacy Project

The SignWriting Literacy Project is pioneering a new concept in Deaf
Education. SignWriting books, videos and software are donated to
classes of Deaf students. In return, teachers, students and parents
provide documented feedback. The results are published on the
SignWriting Web Site and in an annual SignWriting Literacy Project
Report, distributed to educators.

SignWriting is a way to read, write and type any signed language. All
materials donated to the schools are written in American Sign Language
(ASL), authored by Deaf native ASL signers. The SignWriting videos are
taught in ASL with English voice-over. Fluency in reading and writing
American Sign Language is used as a bridge to teach written English.

The project began in 1998. Below are some web pages to visit:

SignWriting Literacy Project

Albuquerque Public Schools

Would you like your school to participate? Your students must be Deaf
and use Sign Language. One teacher must be online, so they can receive
technical support through email. Write for more information:

The SignWriting Literacy Project
The DAC, Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting
P.O. Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
Tel: 858-456-0098...Fax: 858-456-0020
Email: Sutton at SignWriting.org
Web:   http://www.SignWriting.org



Symbols widen deaf children's understanding

By David Hasemyer

March 9, 2003

If you are a hearing person reading the word "house," you're able to
immediately visualize in your mind's eye a dwelling that has a door,
windows and perhaps a front yard.

But for a deaf child who has never heard the word "house" spoken
before, seeing it might elicit no mental image whatsoever. It would be
akin to a hearing person trying to decipher Japanese characters.

Now deaf children have their own written language, one that enables
them to conjure up a mental image that matches the word "house."

It is based on the sign language, the method of communication the deaf
are most comfortable with and fluently use.

It's called SignWriting and it was developed by Valerie Sutton, a La
Jolla woman who wanted to give deaf children a written language of
their own.

"SignWriting triggers in their brain that the symbol they see
translates into something real, like a house or a bus," Sutton said.

The success of SignWriting in the elementary schools of Albuquerque,
N.M., was outlined in a California Educators of the Deaf conference
seminar yesterday in Mission Valley.

The program is used in 27 countries, though Sutton said she is not
aware of it being used in any San Diego County schools.

For children born deaf or who become deaf early in life, sign language
is their first language. English is their second language, and an often
difficult and frustrating concept to grasp.

SignWriting uses a system of graphic symbols that closely replicate the
hand gestures of sign language. It connects the two and has some
teachers praising it as a significant teaching tool for deaf children.
SignWriting is essentially the ABCs of sign language, essentially an
alphabet for writing the movements of the hands and fingers used in

"It brings their world alive," said Lorraine Crespin, a teacher at
Hodgin Elementary School in Albuquerque. "You can see it in their
faces. It's like that light bulb going off."

Instinctively deaf children are able to pick up SignWriting, she said.
"You can put it in front of them and watch their faces. You can see it

SignWriting makes the deaf child's integration into the mainstream
world of English speakers a little less difficult.

"This gives them some confidence to make the transition a little
easier," said Hodgin teacher Kate Lee.

"Think how important that is for a child to be able to communicate
ideas and thoughts in a way that they have never had before. It opens
the world to them."

David Hasemyer: david.hasemyer at uniontrib.com

Copyright 2003 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

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