Attitudes towards writing Sign Languages

Valerie Sutton Sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Wed Oct 30 15:39:54 UTC 2002

SignWriting List
October 30, 2002

the Parkhursts in Spain wrote about a workshop:
>If a Deaf individual decides to use a system, it is not the place
>of other Deaf or hearing persons to put him down or discourage him from
>doing so. Likewise, if a Deaf community (in Spain, for example) does like it
>and is using it, then other Deaf need to respect that and not condemn them
>for using a writing system. Since there were strong opinions on all sides, I
>felt like it was a very good introduction to our students regarding the
>issues involved in SL literacy.

Hello Steve and Dianne!
Thank you for your report. Your seminar in North Dakota sounded successful - congrats on that!

I smiled when I read about the controversy among Deaf people, as to whether others should write Sign Language or not...

It reminded me of a conversation I had once with our DAC members years ago. They informed me that Deaf people in the US were not happy when they first heard that Dr. Stokoe had proved that ASL was a good language. Some Deaf Community members were angry, because they felt "all these years we have been trying to show that our English is good, and now we are supposed to be proud of a language that hearing people look down on? It will make us look foolish"....Of course, over many years the Deaf attitude they are proud of their language...

And it was the same for interpreters, when they made interpreting "a profession". Before that time, hearing people living in the Deaf Community interpreted for free. But when interpreters wanted to be paid - that was a shock and some Deaf people were against interpreters making it a profession...then later the attitude changed and now it is accepted.

So I guess, if we keep writing, and accept everyone's opinions, in time the attitude will change too...Sign Languages are written languages now, even if the numbers of signwriters are small...

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at

Read & Write Sign Languages

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Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
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