re-presenting myself

Ingvild Roald ingvild.roald at STATPED.NO
Mon Mar 29 12:39:56 UTC 2004


I'm not deaf, nor are anyone in my family (my brother is hard-of-hearing,
but will not sign). I first met deaf people in 1975, when I got a
posistion as a teacher at a secondary (16+) school for deaf students,
teaching physics and math etc. At that time the Norwegian Sign Language
(NSL) was still not recognised, not even by the Deaf community. So I was
tought (of my own free will, at my on time and expense, no support from my
school) the 'Correct Norwegian Sign Language', which was something like
'Signing Exact English'. Even the signs themselves were often not the ones
used bu the Deaf signers, because they were thought inferior. There was
also an attempt at the time to create a 'Nordic Sign Language' , so the
'Correct NSL' had imported signs from Sweden and Denmark, as well as
artificial ones.

Well, I stayed on in the school, and found that I had brighter and more
able students than the theory of the time allowed. - Norway had kept an
extremely rigid oral system from 1881 til about 1970, when signing was
allowed in the schools. But still the teachers did not have to learn it,
and if they, like me, tried to learn, what we learnt was not the real NSL.
Because of the oralism, NSL also has very distinctive dialects, based on
which school the kids had attended (they mannaged somehow to keep signign
behind their teachers' backs). -No one expected anyting much from a deaf
student, and so no one got anything much until we started to ask questions
about this theory in the 1980s.

I came across Sign Writing when I visited a school for deaf students in
Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1982. The students there were having classes using
SW, and they showed me what it was like. I got my school to purchase the
first 'Lessons in SignWriting' from the DAC, and read it with ease and
awe. When the DOS-program came, I translated the manuals so my deaf
friends could be able to read them.

I have worked with SW on and off ever since. I am no longer teaching at
the school, but am at the resource center of wich this school is a part. I
am trying to complete a new textbook on Sign Wriiting this spring, and I
will be presenting on dictionary work in Lisbon.

So, this is what I have to tell you about myself. You can find some more
about my teaching and school on the Sign Writing home page, under forums,

Ingvild Roald,


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