A Deaf perspective

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Mar 29 15:54:39 UTC 2004

SignWriting List
March 29, 2004

Dear SW List, and Dan -
This is a very nice message (below), from my perspective-ha!....I am 
glad you feel this way...Thank you for this, Dan....

I believe you came to visit me, in Newport Beach, California, in the 
mid-1980's? I remember that, and there are times when I think back and 
realize how far we have come...don't you agree?

And there are so many on this List who have been working with 
SignWriting since the 1980's or 1990's - List members who have 
continued to write signed languages no matter what the criticism. So 
the criticism has been hard on everyone, although very interesting, and 
provides a picture into human nature.

Thank you, to everyone, for your  introductions...I am enjoying reading 

But regarding the people from that "angry web site" ....They are 
well-meaning is my guess. But they are hurting themselves, by becoming 
angry. They are following a sad trend in our American society, which I 
feel should change...namely screaming at people when you want 
something, under the guise of "principles"...The idea that whoever 
shouts the loudest, has "won"...Of course the shouters are not heard 
any longer, because no one can be heard, since everyone is shouting at 
once! And pushing your ideas on someone never works well...There is no 
question that changes need to be made to our educational system, but 
shouting at the teachers, who are not paid well, and who are overworked 
by their administrators, and who give their own private money to help 
their Deaf students get the materials they need (I know, I have seen 
the selfless teachers who give and give and give)...those teachers 
cannot be criticised for the position they have been put in...Teachers 
want Deaf students to learn to read well, but the teachers were missing 
one component, which was out of their control...They lacked equality 
for both ASL and English. With only a writing system for one language 
(English), the Deaf children were left trying to learn to read a 
language they do not know, cannot hear, and is abstract in its writing 
system. But when you add the written ASL in SignWriting, it is like a 
light bulb going off in the Deaf child's head...They understand both 
languages better, when both can be written...

I wonder if the people who created that shouting web site know about 
SignWriting? Because of the shouting, I got turned off and left the 
site before searching for a SignWriting element...

Regarding the insane business model you correctly mention, Dan, (grin), 
you are absolutely right. There is no money in the way I am running our 
web site, giving SignWriting documents and software away for free...But 
on the other side to that...The very fact that I am giving it away for 
free is part of the reason that we have thousands of people using 
SignWriting in 27 countries! And since we are a "non-profit" 
organization, I can gather funds through writing grants...I just need 
to do that more. We were in debt at the end of last year, but I am 
paying it off now, and I look forward to being debt-free...

I want to thank others on this List, who are also very generous with 
their time and funds, to help SignWriting continue. I am not the only 
one here, who has given to SignWriting projects...So many thanks to our 
SignWriting family - Team work is making this possible...

Belgium diagrams are coming, and if there are any other SignWriting 
projects that need our feedback, please post them to the 
List....Everyone's ideas are most welcome. I know there are several 
interesting presentations for the Lisbon conference, and I am happy to 
help where I can - In fact, I feel very inspired by all the great 

Val ;-)


On Mar 29, 2004, at 6:06 AM, Dan Parvaz wrote:

>> And finally, I found a website that was heavily biased toward English 
>> literacy for deaf.  It was also very negative towards interpreters.  
>> It ª± called Deafwin and the address is http://www.deafwin.com.
> Wow. Talk about opinionated hearing people who want to force their 
> views on the Deaf. His website reads like a xeroxed conspiracy-theory 
> rant sheet, full of nameless people, unmentionable agencies, and a 
> coordinated effort to keep his miracle cure out of the hands of the 
> deaf masses. If he were selling a medical product, I'd be quacking all 
> the way home. I found myself rapidly not caring about the no-doubt 
> decent ideas buried in the noise.
> Point of comparison: Val is a hearing person with an idea. She has 
> been unrelentingly upbeat for, oh, as long as I've known her... which 
> was back in the day when the Sign Writer was distributed to Orange 
> County libraries with articles in English and Danish signed languages. 
> She has responded to stiff criticism of her work, not by writing long, 
> unibomberesqe essays but by talking with Deaf people and asking for 
> their input and support. She provided free software and free materials 
> -- an insane business model? -- and has stayed afloat. With the advent 
> of the internet, she put together an award-winning website, enlisted 
> open-source programming help, and has found folks in the research 
> community who think she has something to offer not found in other 
> transcription systems.
> The contrast is instructive, no?
> -Dan.

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