Typing BSL Fingerspelling

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Fri Mar 5 17:50:25 UTC 2004

SignWriting List
March 5, 2004

Sandy Fleming in the UK wrote:
> I've just written out the SignWriting for the six letters I think need
> to be
> refined in the BSL fingerspelling system as done by Val for the
> keyboard.
> This is handwritten (well, "block letters"!) at the moment. I think
> this is
> going to be the pattern for me - a website with two boxes for each
> sign -
> one handwritten and then one done with software, the software lagging
> behind
> the handwritten versions. I find the software, at least in its present
> form,
> too distracting from the work of actually designing the signs. In the
> end I
> decided that it's not a bad thing that people understand that it can
> be just
> as practical to write or even sketch signs, and that they don't _have_
> to
> download and learn software to get on with things.

Hello SW Listers, and Sandy!
This is sooo well stated, Sandy....You are absolutely right. SignWriter
DOS, because it is an older program designed for computers with very
little memory, could not accomodate all of those handshapes! So my
attempt at designing the BSL Fingerspelling Keyboard in SignWriter DOS
was limited to the symbols that were in the computer program, and as
you know, the handshapes with the individual fingers bending at the
knuckle joint, to greet the other hand's index finger, as you have
written in the attached diagram, did not exist in the SignWriter DOS
symbolset...so my makeshift design was based on computer limitations at
the time...

And it is great that you mention the fact, that we have a true
handwriting...that is....I mean....people write SignWriting by hand
more, I suspect, than they type by computer...

I know that a lot of people here on the List are computer-oriented
people who are skilled with computers, and I suspect that most of them
assumed that computers were used to type SignWriting more than writing
by hand...but it is actually the opposite...since our world is an
unequal place...and many SignWriting users are in countries where
computers are not the norm, but the exception. So they go to computer
cafes...one place in a city that has some public computers to use...and
they grab some SignWriting on the web and print it out and from there
they write by hand...So the web is spreading the writing system...but
that does not mean that all people have access to typing SignWriting...

I explained this to the developper of SignWriter DOS, Richard Gleaves,
on the telephone yesterday, and he was so happy to hear this, since
computer programs are only designed to assist...and they should not
restrict a developing and evolving writing system...

More about this soon...thanks so much for sharing this diagram with us,

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