To Participants of the First European SignWriting Symposium
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
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:
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 home...smile...have a safe trip
Sutton at SignWriting.org
Read & Write Sign Languages
Sign Language Dictionaries
Read & Write Dance
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
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