SignWriting Article

Gagnon & thibeault atg at VIDEOTRON.CA
Thu Feb 1 19:30:37 UTC 2007

Hi Sergio, 
In addition, a distinction should be made between communicative proficiency
and academic proficiency.  Communicative proficiency refers to the ability
to use a language for ordinary everyday purposes whereas academic
proficiency refers to the ability to engage in the language of classroom
discourse and school/academic texts (English, Math, Sciences
I won’t talk about communicative proficiency.  I will focus on academic
proficiency.  The hearing children who use the majority language learn to
share the same language (a written form and a spoken form).  They learn
another minority language.  They try to figure out and observe in order to
share two different languages between a written majority form and a written
minority form.  Also they try to listen and read directly the same minority
language between  a written minority form and a spoken minority form. 
There are several types of bilingualism.  The most important difference is
between balanced bilingualism and unbalanced bilingualism.
Balanced bilingualism refers to equal proficiency in two languages. The
situation of real balanced bilingualism is rare in the world.  Unbalanced
bilingualism refers to good proficiency in a language and less proficiency
in another one.  The real situation of the unbalanced bilingualism is common
in the world.  For example, the Canadian students who learn English and
French at school.  They often have more abilities in the majority language
than in the minority language. This is an example of unbalanced
Remember that 90% of the deaf children have hearing parents. That is an
important factor.  Most Deaf children who have severe or profound hearing
loss can barely get by in their language.  They begin learning the minority
sign language at school and they also begin reading the majority language at
the same time.  They OFTEN refuse to read it for a long time.  Why such
refusal?  Because the signed form and the written majority form do not share
the same language.  If Deaf children learn their same minority sign language
through a Sign Writing form and a signed form, they may accept to develop
and accept reading Sign Writing.  Once they master their sign language
knowledge and their SW knowledge, they may trust and accept the majority
language.  They try to figure out and observe to share two different
languages between a SW form and a written majority form based on academic
texts.  But, Deaf children cannot hear a spoken form and cannot sound out a
spoken or written majority form.  If Deaf children learn using medias with
or without closed captions, the signed form and the written majority form do
not share the same language based academic texts.  Remember that unbalanced
languages are common in the world.  If they do not know Sign Writing, they
must struggle with their life in the world because they are only skilled in
using a sign language (communicative proficiency) and they are limited to
read and to write the majority language.  If they know how to use Sign
Writing for reading and writing, they are skilled in using sign language
(communicative proficiency) and in reading and writing Sign Writing
(academic proficiency).  Maybe, they are less fluent in reading and writing
a majority language because of unbalanced bilingualism. Therefore they must
fight for their human rights using the SW for a job in the ever-changing
SW tools are beneficial to Deaf children. SW enables them  to discover the
world with more autonomy by choosing either a SW form or a written majority
form. Because having a SW knowledge (metalinguistic) makes everything more
accessible. It is easier to observe, analyze, compare two different
languages based on academic texts.  If they do not know a SW, they are
dependent on others, e.g. they often have to ask new words/unknown words to
their teachers who may lose patience over this.  If using medias, Deaf
children who never learned a SW often have to ask questions because they are
unable to be autonomous and indepedent people. 

From: owner-sw-l at
[mailto:owner-sw-l at] On Behalf Of Sergio Ribeiro
Sent: 26 janvier 2007 11:34
To: sw-l at
Subject: [sw-l] SignWriting Article
Hello friends,
I am writing article about signwriting use in deaf class, this article will
be to the new Magazine. But here in Brazil many peoples, teacher and
linguistics, disagree if writing sign languages is really important or
necessary, because today we have another medias like DVD, CD-ROM, etc, using
video format. What you think about and Deaf members of DAC have what point
of view ?
I want to write this more specific is possible !
My article title is “SignWriting – Why not ?”. I will explain about sign
language history, Stokoe studies and notation, person of the pass that say
about sign writing possible like Itard, Bebian and Alexander Graham Bell.
But most important point is using sign language at moment, now. Who are
using ? Is signwriting great toll for teaching deaf in new approach,
bilingual approach ?
I will be many thankful to see your opinion ! 
Sergio Ribeiro
Centro Educacional Cultura Surda
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