FINLAND Survey on SignWriting

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Fri Aug 12 17:38:08 UTC 2005

SgnWriting List
August 12, 2005

On Aug 11, 2005, ninuccia at wrote:
> Now I send the abstract to you and you can post it in the
> internet if you want ... With hug, Niina from Finland :)



Rissanen Niina
Writing Sign Language: A Survey of Emergent Sign Language Literacy in  
the Deaf Community
Autumn 2003
72 p. 12 appendices

The Diaconia Polytechnic, Turku Unit
Degree Programme in Sign Language Interpretation
Sign Language Interpreter (210 ECTS credits)

The aim of the present thesis was to survey and present the subject  
of emergent Sign Language Literacy. The subject was chosen due to its  
significance but also for its novelty, since no previous study on the  
subject has been made in Finland.

The thesis is based on the idea that Sign Languages can be written as  
any other languages. As an evidence for that, it is referred to the  
history of writing spoken languages, the structural features of both  
spoken and signed languages as well as the communities that already  
use the written form of Sign Language.  Special attention is drawn to  
the system called SignWriting and its users. On SignWriting, a three- 
phased survey was made in which the first phase was accomplished in  
the form of a personal interview, the second one was a questionnaire  
whereas in the third phase information was gathered via the Internet  
and through personal contacts.

The results of the study show that Sign Languages can be and actually  
are written languages, even though it is not a widely spread  
conception among the Deaf. While writing spoken language is a well- 
established way of writing in many Deaf communities, written Sign  
Language provides its users with additional, remarkable  
possibilities. At present, in many countries the first generation of  
the Deaf is becoming literate in their native language, and an  
increasing amount of Deaf and Hearing signers are realizing the value  
of written Sign Language. On the basis of the survey it is suggested  
that Sign Language is not only a language in its own right but it is  
also suitable to be used in a written form of communication.

Keywords: Sign Language; writing systems; literacy; reading; writing;  
survey; qualitative research.

The study is stored at the Diaconia Polytechnic, Turku Unit.

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