Deaf opposition to SW

Sandy Fleming sandy at SCOTSTEXT.ORG
Sat Aug 6 10:39:10 UTC 2005

Hi Adam, Val and List!

I've had a few discussions of SignWriting with Deaf people and signing, 
hearing parents of Deaf children.

I invariably find myself running straight into arguments against writing 
sign languages - nearly everyone objects to the idea to start with - but 
for those involved in Deaf culture I've discovered that one argument in 
favour of writing sign languages always works, and that's the equality 
argument. Recently I was trying to put the case for SignWriting to a 
hearing woman who is learning BSL because she has a Deaf child who has 
just started at a full-BSL school. She shot down every argument for 
having SignWriting in the school, but once I started talking about it in 
terms of equality she started agreeing with me and even wondered if the 
teachers at the school might be interested.

Why should the Deaf write their languages? ...because the Hearing write 
_their_ languages. It's about equality.

But written sign language doesn't capture the full aspect of the 
language ...but neither does written oral language. It's about equality.

But Deaf people can record their language on video nowadays would 
the Heaing put up with having to use a tape recorder all the time? It's 
about equality.

But really, what's wrong with video?'s only one medium. Oral 
languages work in all mediums, so should sign languages. It's about 

But Deaf children can learn from books in English would it be 
better if English people learned from books in Chinese? It's about equality.

...and so on!

I'm not saying that any of this is a new idea, just that I've found that 
equality issues as an argument really work where other arguments fail. I 
should emphasise the importance of actually using the word or sign 
"equality" in such arguments! People support equality.


Valerie Sutton wrote:

> SignWriting List
> July 20, 2005
> On Jul 20, 2005, at 10:42 AM, Adam Frost wrote:
> I have actually done a research on this topic for a paper in school.  
> I found that most Deaf didn't like the idea of SW not mainly because  
> they feel that it can't capture the full aspect of the language  
> (although it is a strong argument that some have), but that SW would  
> cause hearing people to have a lessened view of ASL as a language,  
> and it would also separate Deaf from hearing people even more. I  
> personally don't agree with any of that (of course, or I wouldn't be  
> here now would I. LOL!)
> -----------------
> Adam and Everyone -
> They are talking out of ignorance, Adam! I believe it is a weak  
> argument. They obviously have not tried to learn SignWriting, and  
> they are against the new idea, without really learning it first. We  
> can write sooo much detail and capture the nuances of ASL far more  
> than either the IPA or written English captures spoken English...and  
> we are not hurting ASL to write it, only enhancing it...
> The only criticism that I care about, are from those people who  
> really have taken the time to learn and use SignWriting - your  
> opinions matter because you know what you are talking about...but  
> anyone can criticize something they do not know, to avoid having to  
> take the trouble of learning it...There are still people who talk  
> against using computers, afterall, and it has been decades since  
> computers have come into everyday life here -
> And I know some smokers, who still argue there is no proof that it  
> can hurt your some people do not like change and they are  
> afraid of it...
> An article to read about this issue...
> Val ;-)

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