Sign Language and the Taliban

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Apr 3 01:37:19 UTC 2003

SignWriting List
April 2, 2003

James Kegl wrote:
> I was websurfing this morning and came across an article describing the
> efforts of teachers trying to teach a sign language to deaf children in
> Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban.  The teachers wanted to
> create
> a sign language manual with diagrams.  The Taliban government
> prohibited
> this on the grounds that such depictions constituted human images,
> which
> were forbidden.  (The teachers prepared the manual anyway, but
> clandestinely
> and, no doubt, at great risk.) It occurs to me that the entire issue
> could have been avoided by using
> SignWriting, which is not a picture system at all, but a writing code.


Hello Everyone, and James!
That is an interesting story. About a year ago, someone told me that
SignWriting was being used in Afghanistan. The person who told me was
an American who had read about it. So I asked.... "How do you know it
was SignWriting?"...They told me that the name SignWriting was not
used, but the person just assumed it was SignWriting...So I explained
that I had not heard of this, although it is possible, and then we
started talking about Saudi Arabia - I explained that some remarkable
pioneering work is being done in a schools for Deaf Boys in Saudi
Arabia....By the way, Mohammed, thank you for your many gifts of Arabic
documents, which I have not forgotten and I still hope to post on the
web... and thank you too, James, for all your reports...I owe so many
people thanks for all you are doing - I hope and pray I can be more
active on the List again - I was in need of a rest, but things are
starting to gather steam once more!

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at

1. SignWritingSite
Read & Write Sign Languages

2. SignBankSite
Sign Language Dictionaries

3. DanceWritingSite
Read & Write Dance

4. MovementWritingSite
Read & Write Movement & Gesture

5. The SoulSite
Proceeds Donated to Deaf Literacy

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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