News from Quebec

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Fri May 21 15:21:02 UTC 2004

SignWriting List
May 21, 2004

Dear SW Listers, and Louis-Felix in Quebec!
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Louis-Felix. As you can 
see, there is nothing to worry about...instead it is a good experience! 
And all those people who were skeptical years ago, had never tried it 
themselves, so how could they really know? And those same people 
dropped their skepticism quickly...when they started to use it....that 
is why we kept on going...because it was obvious that it would become a 
real writing system someday, if we just continued...Thirty years has 
proven it is true...

So I guess we are in a new era! Now it is just a matter of literature 
and other materials...Well, that can be solved over time. Rather than 
trying big steps immediately, start with one small SignWriting project. 
Maybe you could reach out to one Deaf person, and ask if they would be 
willing to sign the story of Goldilocks in French-Canadian Sign 
Language, onto a videotape. Then you can have fun trying to slowly 
write the story in SignWriting from the videotape. That way, you know 
you are getting the correct way to sign it, since it was signed by a 
Deaf signer, but you can do it at your leisure. Or maybe the Deaf 
person will become interested enough to help with the transcription! I 
will be happy to supply you with the illustrations. Anyone is welcome 
to use our illustrations in our SignWriting publications, for your own 
SignWriting publications.

Plus, you can also take each individual sign from the videotape, and 
start adding them to a dictionary database. So you will slowly build a 
vocabulary list written in SignWriting.

What are your computer skills, Louis-Felix? Are you using SignWriter 
DOS, SignWriter Java, SignBank?

Val ;-)

PS. Regarding Deaf students who use Coclear Implants...people bring 
that up to me all the time, and that is not the issue with SignWriting. 
Instead think differently about SignWriting. This is what I tell 
people: Any person who uses a signed language, needs a way to write 
their language. So as long as any signed language exists on this earth, 
SignWriting will have value, because it is the written form for signed 
languages. So what does a Coclear Implant have to do with SignWriting? 
Zero. I guess people assume that the Coclear Implant will delete the 
need for any signed language...but I know plenty of hearing people who 
sign, and they can hear! So in that context, SignWriting does not 
service the Deaf....SignWriting services anyone who uses a signed 
language, both deaf and hearing.

You are right, that the mainstreaming schools are a complicated 
situation because teachers do not have the support of their 
administrators to try and experiment with new ideas...but what about 
the parents? you could start a class with signing families...the 
children and the parents in the family, both deaf and 
learn to write the language they use daily...and that will not impose 
problems on the schools for now...Their class project could be to write 
the Goldilocks story from videotape - ha!

Those are some of my thoughts...Thanks so much for sharing with us, 
Louis-Felix! I hope some of your fellow signwriters will join our List 
and ask questions anytime!

Val ;-)


On May 20, 2004, at 4:33 PM, Louis-Félix Bergeron wrote:

> Hi everybody!
> I wanted to share a few Quebec news with you. I'm amazed by what is
> starting to happen here.
> Two weeks ago, there was a french-speakin symposium in Montreal on some
> deaf issues (sign language research, bilingualism and literacy,
> psychosocial issues in deafness, etc.). I presented there some of my
> research on the relevance to have a writing system for Quebec Sign
> Language (LSQ). Of course, I presented briefly SignWriting (people was
> quite intrigued by this system not created by a linguist but by a
> dancer). The reaction of the assistance was very positive. Even if the
> Deaf people in the assistance didn't show a great deal of interest into
> writing LSQ, I felt a big "wow!" in the hearing people. For exemple,
> hearing parents of deaf children said "This could help us to learn sign
> language because when we had our sign language classes, we had some
> problems with the signs notation to remember them. With that kind of
> system, it will be easier to learn and remember signs." Some school
> interpreters were also very interested by the idea of writing sign
> language. I had a few disappointments with the half-heartedness of the
> Deaf and with the question of the inclusion of SW in mainstreaming
> schools. The Quebec Deaf community is rather small, but very spread 
> over
> a large territory. We have very few schools with Deaf classes and the
> majority of deaf children are mainstreamed, sometimes with LSQ (or
> pidgin) interpreter, sometimes with oral (or Sim Com, Cued Speech,
> Signed French, etc.) interpreter, sometimes only with hearing aids. 
> More
> and more deaf children receive a cochlear implant. So in such a 
> context,
> I wonder how could SW work here. But I was quite happy with the
> generally positive reactions when I talked about this writing system.
> A few days later, a speech therapist that had worked with me on this
> presentation for the symposium told me she is trying to include SW in
> her therapies. The other therapists working with her seem interested as
> well, but we are facing quite a big problem : we have lit a fire but we
> have no written material to make it burn. The deaf people I have talked
> to also told me "We agree to use SW in education, but everything is in
> ASL and we don't have time to prepare LSQ school material ourselves, so
> we can't "afford" to use SW because we don't have enough resources to
> deal with it and we are doing quite well without it."
> So I can see a need for SW in Quebec, but we also need written material
> in LSQ. We are not yet ready to provide this material, but I'm glad to
> see that I'm not the only one in Qc who thinks that it would be 
> relevant
> to use a writing system for LSQ. I am also a bit suprised because I
> expected a lot of resistance against the idea to write in LSQ. But it
> seems that the resistance problem isn't as bad as the material problem.
> There is interest in SW but, first things first, we have to make school
> books, stories, lessons in LSQ-SW. Once we will have some material, it
> will be easier to spread the "Good News" about SW. Even if our "little
> mainstreamed deaf population" context may not seem very welcoming for
> SW, I realize that the interest for SW could be very suprising. 
> However,
> we have to support this interest with written material.
> That's the Quebec news for today. A bientot!
> Louis-Felix

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