[sw-l] IMWA and smaller symbolsets...

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Wed Nov 24 18:33:51 UTC 2004

SignWriting List
November 24, 2004

Sandy Fleming wrote:
> I'm wondering, do you think it's possible for a computer program to be
> written that would generate handshpe graphics from data? This would be
> a
> better solution for wordprocessors, instead of having to have the IMWA
> downloaded, which is huge. But are the rules for drawing handshapes
> consistent enough to make this possible?

Hello Sandy and Everyone!
I guess my answer is both yes and no...Here are some points to

1. The IMWA consists of 8 categories of symbols: Hands, Movement, Face,
Head, Upper Body, Full Body, Space and Puncutation...

2. Handshapes are only 1 out of 8 categories. We have 195 handshapes at
the moment, and when I am done in December, we will have over 200. Most
signed languages only use around 80 handshapes total.

3. The IMWA is a big storage chest for every symbol in DanceWriting as
well as SignWriting.

4. I will be adding the DanceWriting symbols and the stick figures
pieces into the IMWA in December. Plus some more movement symbols and
more facial expression combinations.

5. Although the rules for Handshape Construction seem to be working, I
am sure, if we develop a computer program to generate handshapes from
those rules, we will find some inconsistencies with some of the older
handshapes. But yes...such a program could be developed based on our
Handshape Construction Rules.

6. Deaf children in 27 countries have already been using most of these
handshapes...especially the older symbols...so changing the symbols on
them now is harder, and maybe not necessary? We are truly writing 27
signed languages now, and we are doing ok...

7. The IMWA doesn't have to be downloaded!! You can grab any symbol you
want in the IMWA in the following computer programs:

SIGNMAKER in SignPuddle (online)
SIGNBANK Desktop Database
SYMBOLBANK Online Web Database

And Stephen will be updating the IMWA in SignMaker, as soon as I am
done....and I will be updating the SignBank and SymbolBank databases

And I believe other programs will start using the IMWA in time...

8. Using the IMWA in word processors etc is easy enough with SignMaker
generating the SWML-S etc...plus you can right-click on a sign, and
copy it into documents...For now creating your signs and sentences in
SignMaker and SignText, and then copying them into documents, is the
easiest. And if you use the SignBank database on your desktop, you can
go into SymbolBank and copy individual symbols into other documents.

So in summary...
If you would like to develop software of that kind, that sounds like an
interesting project and I will help all I can. But meanwhile, I plan to
finish the IMWA in all 8 categories with the symbols we have at the
moment. I do not mind doing the work and I want to thank Stephen
Slevinski for choosing to use the IMWA in SignPuddle...I hope that
other software developers will consider it too...since the symbol ID
numbers are becoming standard with the IMWA...Smaller symbolsets for
BSL and ASL etc will be developed someday, but they all will use the
same symbol id numbers as the IMWA....

Val ;-)

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