To Participants of the First European SignWriting Symposium

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Jul 21 04:35:21 UTC 2005

July 21, 2005
To Participants of the
First European SignWriting Symposium
Brussels, Belgium, July 21-22, 2005

 From the desk of
Valerie Sutton
La Jolla (San Diego), California
In the south-west corner of the US, near the border with Mexico ;-)

We will see each other by videophone at 1:00 in the morning  
California time, which is 10:00 in the morning Brussels time, today!  
That is just a few hours from now ;-))

HELLO EVERYONE, from the other side of the globe!

How truly amazing that we can communicate together, through email  
messages, the web, and videophone conversations...Airplanes may go  
out of business, if we can all fly by videophone!

This year, communication by videophone is NEW, so without the help of  
Daniel Noelpp, who recently started to work with videophones in  
Switzerland, the videophone conversation with the Symposium could not  
happen...Daniel gave me special attention through email for several  
hours, two days before the Symposium, helping me step by step, to  
configure my videophone to work properly. THANK YOU, Daniel!

ALSO, a big THANK YOU to our hosts in Belgium....Kathleen Heylen,  
Sara Geudens, and the Kasterlinden School for the Deaf in Brussels,  
and to the other members of the Organizing Committee: Shane Gilchrist  
from Northern Ireland, Trevor Jenkins from England, Ingvild Roald  
from Norway, and Stefan Woehrmann from Germany. This was a big job to  
organize the First European Symposium - Congratulations!

The First European SignWriting Symposium

And thank you to our international interpreters, Gerdinand Wagenaar  
and Mindy Brown.....We certainly could not hold such an international  
event without you!

I understand that Symposium participants may possibly be discussing a  
constitution for a new European SignWriting Organization? SignWriting  
began in Europe, so it is only fitting to have a European  
organization...Thank you to Ingvild and Shane and others who are  
working on this. This is YOUR organization, and that feels really  
good to know that SignWriting is spreading in Europe...

Since our videophone time will be short, I would like to share news  
with you from my desk....


1. New SignWriting Technical Support Options

Free Technical Support on the SignWriting List as always...
Pay a Fee to Receive Immediate and Private Attention to your Questions

If someone has a project that is using SignWriting, and they need  
specific answers quickly to their technical questions, and they  
cannot wait online for me to answer them on the free SignWriting  
List, (which seems to have more and more people waiting these days)  
then there is a new solution. Become a SignWriting Member for $25.00  
a year, and I will answer you privately. I will give paying members  
priority. In time, I hope to be able to pay other co-workers to do  
tech support for us too, and we may have to develop different levels  
of technical support for different fees, depending on the project. As  
SignWriting grows, support needs to grow with it ;-)

SignWriting Membership Gives Tech Support


2. Videos are now on DVD!

Our three SignWriting video products are now available on DVD:

SignWriting Catalog

Lessons in SignWriting Video Series on DVD

Deaf Perspectives on SignWriting Video Series on DVD

Learn To Read American Sign Language Video on DVD


3. Private SignPuddles for Your Projects

Steve Slevinski, SignPuddle developer, and our non-profit  
organization, the Center for Sutton Movement Writing, are working  
together to create a way for groups to hire their own private  
SignPuddle dictionary on the web. Right now we only have Community  
SignPuddles, which are open to anyone to add signs. They are not  
private or restricted. But some groups are now requesting a way to  
create their own private web dictionaries, that no one else could add  
to, or change.

If you or your group would like to have your own private video- 
SignPuddle, with added linguistic features and private group access,  
then write to me and we can talk about costs. We hope that the first  
private SignPuddles will be available in September-October, 2005. We  
will provide technical support for the private groups, and new  
features, such as Unicode support for spoken languages, multiple  
fields for keywords, variants, dialects, multiple definitions, and  
cross referencing between signs. There will be a place to upload  
video for each sign, and a way to establish the order of the symbols  
in the Sign-Spelling for lookup purposes. This means that your  
private dictionary will be able to sort by Sign-Symbol-Sequence.  
Large video dictionaries take memory on the web, which costs money  
for us to pay DeafVision (our web server) for the space, so we will  
provide you with an explanation of the costs, as to how much  
different features will cost, and your group can decide what you can  
afford. Even if you choose a small dictionary in the beginning, you  
can always add more features later, as you get funding.

These private SignPuddles will also help us continue to be able to  
offer the free Community SignPuddles for the general public, which  
are great teaching tools. I love the open nature of the Community



4. Simplified SignSpellings are the goal...

Recently I became aware that the IMWA...the International Movement  
Writing Alphabet...was giving people a mis-impression. Because there  
are so many symbols in the IMWA, it can give the mis-impression that  
we are supposed to write with ALL those symbols! But that was never  
my intention...Most signed languages only need a small percentage of  
the symbols in the IMWA.

So to clarify, the IMWA is not a writing system in its own right. It  
is an archive, holding symbols that can be used in SignWriting,  
DanceWriting, SportsWriting, MimeWriting and GestureWriting.

German Sign Language probably does not need the same handshapes that  
are used in Ethiopian Sign Language. So the German SignWriting  
symbolset and the Ethiopian SignWriting symbolset will choose  
different symbols from the IMWA. These smaller symbolsets specific to  
one signed language become true writing systems, as the symbols are  
applied to SignSpellings. That is SignWriting.

Although it is easy to compare the IMWA with the IPA (International  
Phonetic Alphabet), the truth is that the comparison is not an exact  
one at all. Sutton Movement Writing is unique in history and has no  

So I am writing to ask all of you to try to write signs with SIMPLE  
SignSpellings. Do not put in too much detail, unless you are doing a  
research project that requires it. When we write in English, we are  
not writing with the IPA. We are writing simplified English  
spellings...not detailed ones. Simplified SignWriting spellings are  
the ones that will be used most when writing a letter to a friend, or  
writing a novel in Sign Language. And Deaf children deserve to have a  
simple SignWriting system that is easy to read and write by hand...

Once you have your SignPuddles filled with your country's signs,  
Steve and I will be able to do a symbol-frequency check to see which  
symbols you have used most when writing your signs. That will pin- 
down the simplified smaller symbolset just for your one sign  
language. So the IMWA will become the reference tool it is supposed  
to be, for researchers and new signed languages that are just  
starting to be written...

This message is becoming way too long! I really enjoyed sharing with  
you, and I wish you all a wonderful time in Brussels!! And enjoy the  
celebration of Belgium's Independence Day!

I hope to hear from you when you get a safe trip  

Val ;-)
Sutton at

D-Link Videophone:

1. SignWritingSite
Read & Write Sign Languages

2. SignBankSite
Sign Language Dictionaries

3. DanceWritingSite
Read & Write Dance

4. MovementWritingSite
Read & Write Movement & Gesture

5. SymbolBank On The Web
Archive For All Symbols

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
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Sw-l mailing list