Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Mar 30 19:49:13 UTC 2004

SignWriting List
March 30, 2004

Louis-Félix Bergeron wrote:
> So I decided to study the possibility for LSQ to have a writing system,
> especially for bilingual bicultural education. I ª>  sure I ª>  not the
> first person who studies this question, but apparently nobody in Quebec
> had ever proposed to have a writing system for LSQ (if somebody did, 
> the
> news didn ª²  spread out e  . So I want to ask you information about 
> your
> experiments, your findings, your researches so I could say to Quebec
> Deaf, deaf teachers, parents of deaf children, etc., that it is a good
> idea and it is possible to have a writing system for LSQ, that other
> Deaf, deaf teachers, etc. of other SL have tried it and that it works.
> Of course, I also want to know about what didn ª²  work so we can 
> explain
> why and suggest improvements. I ª>  studying SW and other systems 
> (mostly
> notation systems) to render a spectrum of what currently exists to 
> write
> down SL on paper, with what purposes and uses, etc.

Hello Everyone and Louis-Félix!
Yes. There are Deaf children and adults reading and writing their 
signed languages in 27 countries, so there is absolutly no reason why 
the French-Canadian Sign Language cannot become a written language too!

As you know, there are people in the English-speaking part of Canada, 
that use and write ASL in SignWriting, so I was hoping that someone 
from Quebec would become interested in writing French-Canadian Sign 
Language someday...and perhaps that day has come? smile...

Below is information on our SignWriting Literacy Project. Although the 
materials are in ASL, I could send you one copy of the materials, and 
then you and your colleagues could work on writing the materials into 
French-Canadian Sign Language...We also have other French materials 
from French-Switzerland and also France...but those are only a common 
spoken language, and the signed languages are very different...

Write to me privately if you are interested in trying to start a 
SignWriting Literacy Project in Montreal!

- See below...


SignWriting Literacy Project

The SignWriting Literacy Project is pioneering a new concept in Deaf 
Education. SignWriting books, videos and software are donated to 
classes of Deaf students. In return, teachers, students and parents 
provide documented feedback. The results are published on the 
SignWriting Web Site and in an annual SignWriting Literacy Project 
Report, distributed to educators.

SignWriting is a way to read, write and type any signed language. All 
materials donated to the schools are written in American Sign Language 
(ASL), authored by Deaf native ASL signers. The SignWriting videos are 
taught in ASL with English voice-over. Fluency in reading and writing 
American Sign Language is used as a bridge to teach written English. 
Although this is a new project, feedback is already coming in, and the 
results are positive.

The project began in 1998. Below are some sample web pages about one 
participating school.

Albuquerque Public Schools
SignWriting Literacy Project

Would you like your school to participate? Your students must be Deaf 
and use Sign Language. One teacher must be online, so they can receive 
technical support through email. Write for more information:

The SignWriting Literacy Project
The DAC, Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting
P.O. Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
Tel: 858-456-0098...Fax: 858-456-0020
Email: Sutton at



Symbols widen deaf children's understanding

By David Hasemyer

March 9, 2003

If you are a hearing person reading the word "house," you're able to 
immediately visualize in your mind's eye a dwelling that has a door, 
windows and perhaps a front yard.

But for a deaf child who has never heard the word "house" spoken 
before, seeing it might elicit no mental image whatsoever. It would be 
akin to a hearing person trying to decipher Japanese characters.

Now deaf children have their own written language, one that enables 
them to conjure up a mental image that matches the word "house."

It is based on the sign language, the method of communication the deaf 
are most comfortable with and fluently use.

It's called SignWriting and it was developed by Valerie Sutton, a La 
Jolla woman who wanted to give deaf children a written language of 
their own.

"SignWriting triggers in their brain that the symbol they see 
translates into something real, like a house or a bus," Sutton said.

The success of SignWriting in the elementary schools of Albuquerque, 
N.M., was outlined in a California Educators of the Deaf conference 
seminar yesterday in Mission Valley.

The program is used in 27 countries, though Sutton said she is not 
aware of it being used in any San Diego County schools.

For children born deaf or who become deaf early in life, sign language 
is their first language. English is their second language, and an often 
difficult and frustrating concept to grasp.

SignWriting uses a system of graphic symbols that closely replicate the 
hand gestures of sign language. It connects the two and has some 
teachers praising it as a significant teaching tool for deaf children. 
SignWriting is essentially the ABCs of sign language, essentially an 
alphabet for writing the movements of the hands and fingers used in 

"It brings their world alive," said Lorraine Crespin, a teacher at 
Hodgin Elementary School in Albuquerque. "You can see it in their 
faces. It's like that light bulb going off."

Instinctively deaf children are able to pick up SignWriting, she said. 
"You can put it in front of them and watch their faces. You can see it 

SignWriting makes the deaf child's integration into the mainstream 
world of English speakers a little less difficult.

"This gives them some confidence to make the transition a little 
easier," said Hodgin teacher Kate Lee.

"Think how important that is for a child to be able to communicate 
ideas and thoughts in a way that they have never had before. It opens 
the world to them."

David Hasemyer: david.hasemyer at

Copyright 2003 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

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