SignWriting Workshop in Japan

Mark Penner pennermnm at YAHOO.CO.JP
Fri Feb 21 02:08:47 UTC 2003

Thanks to everyone for all the support for the first SW workshop in Japan.
We were right down to the wire, but managed to translate the first four
chapters of the LSE book and adapt the examples to Japanese Sign Language.
We also benefitted from Parkhurst's "Saturday Seminar Materials", which
synopsized the book into 30 or so pages for a one-day presentation that
covers all the material needed to write SW in a handy reference/teaching

11 Deaf and 6 hearing attended. Our teacher was a Japanese Deaf lady, Ms.
Hagiwara, who has been studying SW once or twice a week for about 6 months,
and she did an excellent job. Students would take turns reading the signs.
Toward the end, our sample stories were still in LSE, and after the
students had taken their turns, they asked her to read it. I was impressed
at how smoothly she read it, especially as it was in a foreign SL, so
memorization was not involved at all.

Response was very enthusiastic. On Monday following, I had a (short) fax
written to me in SignWriting. We had immediate requests to teach the
material in other towns (some of our students came from far away). Some are
already planning to spread it in their area themselves, so we need to get
the remaining 10 chapters translated as soon as possible, and start writing
stories in Japanese Sign Language.

Of particular interest to Ms. Hagiwara, who also teaches Japanese Sign
Language, was that the hearing students who stood up to sign could not
voice the words (LSE with no sounds associated with the text).  This was so
difficult for some of them that they made up random sounds to go with the
rhythm of the sign, but on the whole, SW seemed an effective way to keep
students in the realm of sight and help break their dependence on sound.

If anyone has ideas or advice on how to teach or disseminate SignWriting,
let us know.

Thanks again,

Mark, (for the SW Japan group)

Mark and Mary Esther Penner
Tokyo, Japan
penner at

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