Report on 1st European SignWriters Symposium.

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Aug 23 17:01:48 UTC 2005

SignWriting List
August 23, 2005

Hello Barbara and Alessio!
You are the first to write a report on the Symposium...Many many  

Barbara wrote:
> I apologize for the looong delay in translating (and expanding it,  
> too) the small report I and Alessio di Renzo (the other Italian  
> participant to the ESWS -- we were only 2 people) we wrote for out  
> bosses.

No apologies necessary!! You are the first to give us a written report!!

> Sorry if it is a bit longish, hope it may satisfy the curiosity of  
> all the people that couldn't attend the symposium.

YES!! Wonderful. I am eager to read it too ;-)

Do I have your permission to post the report on this web area?...

SignWriitng in Europe...Symposium Reports

Val ;-)

> -----------------------start------------------------
> 21 JULY (1st day) --
> In the morning, after the usual stuff (registration, opening and so  
> on), Kathleen Heylen, from belgium, and Stefan Wohrmann, from  
> germany (sorry stefan, I'm no good at hunting diacritic marks under  
> linux), presented their talks on "education and sign writing  
> techniques".
> Ms. Kathleen's talk was centered mostly on her experience in  
> teaching children how to write down belgian sign language, within  
> the context of a bilingual primary school. She started 2 years ago,  
> with the aim to give children the chance to learn how to read and  
> write in their own sign language. It seems that the implicit  
> objective of her project is to help them reinforce awareness and  
> knowledge of their own sign language. In her talk she showed not  
> only some of the exercises she gave children, but also 5 relevant  
> points of her work with the children:
> 1) phonology (i.e. use of colors and "minimal couples" to mark  
> different elements of a sign)
> 2) morphology (i.e. the use of polysyntactic signs, as kathleen  
> defines what we'd call roughly "classifiers")
> 3) syntax (i.e. making visible the change of meaning between two  
> slightly different SL sentences)
> 4) semantics (i.e. marking the differences between synonyms and/or  
> homonyms)
> 5) pragmatics (i.e. awareness of different linguistic registers  
> such as formal/informal signs)
> Stefan Wohrmann's talk was apparently similar to kathleen's but his  
> aims are a bit different: he uses signwriting and/or  
> "mundbildschrift" to reinforce knowledge and understanding of  
> written/spoken german, by using elements of german sign language as  
> starting points for learning written/spoken german as a second  
> language.
> After lunch (btw, the subs were good! :), two discussion groups  
> were formed. One was focused on SW spelling,, led by Stefan  
> Wohrmann and Sara Geudens, the other on SWTechnology and Computer,  
> with Trevor Jenkins as moderator.
> Alessio attended the first discussion group, Barbara the second.
> SW Spelling discussion group:
> Initially, the moderators (stefan and sara) tried to teach us how  
> to read and write SW symbols, but since most of its participants  
> already knew how to read and write SW, we split into 2 sub-groups:  
> one for people that really didn't know much about SW and another  
> for people with more experience in SW.
> I (alessio) attended the latter group, where we discussed on what  
> would be the best learning process for SW and children. Some people  
> in the grouplet disagreed on using SW only as a "supporting code"  
> for written languages. Then we discussed on how to write into SW a  
> dialogue between 2 people, as in other written languages that have  
> punctuation symbols. An agreement was somehow found: each sentence  
> uttered should be preceded by the signer's sign-name.
> During this discussion, Juliette from Toulouse (France) described  
> her recent experience of working for about 1 or 2 months with a  
> very small group of deaf children in a bilingual school in her  
> town: the aims of her project were quite similar to Kathleen's  
> project, but differing in the "educative process", as Juliette  
> never used PC for printing or writing SW and, to make children more  
> acquainted with SW, she gave them not only reading exercises but  
> also  lot of writing exercises.
> SW Computer/Technology Group:
> It initially started as a lesson by Daniel Noelpp on how to use  
> SignWriter DOS to write down signs, since it shares a lot of  
> features with SW Java and SW Tiger. But the lesson soon became a  
> discussion in itself, since there were some participants that  
> didn't know SW at all, while others already knew bot SW and SW-DOS.  
> After the short afternoon break, those participants joined the  
> abovesaid sub-group to learn more about SW itself, so the remaining  
> people continued discussing on where and how is going software  
> development for SW in the near future... (I, Barbara, must admit  
> that I might have been a bit monomaniac on the problem of using SW  
> software for Sign Language research purposes :p)
> 22 JULY (2nd day) --
> The morning talks were given by Daniel Noelpp and Lars Majewski,  
> who described their work on, respectively, Sign Writer Tiger and  
> Sign Writer Python.
> Daniel has briefly explained what Sign Writer Tiger can do at the  
> present stage of development (e.g.: it can read and write SW  
> documents, but it can't yet print them and it can't manage  
> dictionaries) and explained that this is due to the fact that it  
> isn't YET finished. Then he described what would be the future  
> features of SW Tiger, as its development proceeds.
> One of the "snags" of SW Tiger development, if I understood  
> correctly, is the fact the symbol set of SW is still in evolution,  
> it hasn't been carved into stone like Moses'tables.
> Lars Majewski, in presenting his SignWriter Python, has explained  
> that this too is still under development, and for this reason his  
> project has a "modular" nature, with 5 small programs, each doing a  
> specific task related to SignWriting. Of those 5, only 2 are  
> already ready and downloadable: the Dictionary Browser, a program  
> that loads and displays SW dictionaries made with SW-DOS, and the  
> SignFile Viewer, another programs that can load, display and export  
> as graphic files old SignWriter files. The other 3 would be called  
> SignFile Creator, SignEditor and SignWriter.
> After lunch, we gathered back into the same discussion groups as  
> yesterday.
> The SW group discussed over the following topics:
> - Why SW is already perceived as written language, even if it's not  
> yet "recognized" by deaf community? Even if SW contact happens with  
> deaf children first?
> - How would SW evolve with its usage with one's own sign language  
> within the deaf community?
> Obviously, due to the nature of the topics raised, no conclusion  
> was reached... yet :-)
> The other group of discussion expanded upon the morning talks,  
> especially on what would be necessary to help both Daniel Noelpp  
> and Lars Majewski, who are actually working alone on their  
> programs' development. Some beta-testers (people that don't panic  
> if their program freezes or crashes and can send back to developers  
> what they did do to crash the program and what actually happened)  
> and some other people that can write code in Java or Python would  
> be surely appreciated by Lars and Daniel. We then discussed of the  
> need not only of programs that can write/display/print SW texts,  
> but also of programs that can ease up SL researchers's work (like  
> transcribing and analyzing different features of signed texts, but  
> using SW symbolset and not various conventions/artifices "borrowed"  
> by roman alphabet).
> Then, after group discussions, we gathered back together for a  
> collective discussion on the idea of creating an european  
> organization of sign writers (ESWO), but the discussion didn't  
> reach a reliable conclusion maybe due to the apparent "suddeness"  
> of this ESWO idea, in some of the participants' perception, and to  
> the fact that we were all tired (some DID celebrate the 175th  
> anniversary of belgium the evening before...). So the details and  
> the nitty-gritty work of estabilishing ESWO and how will be  
> discussed later, by email.
> Another point of discussion raised was to decide how would be the  
> frequency of subsequent european symposiums on SW, yearly or every  
> 2 years. After some arguing and discussion, the majority of the  
> participants agreed on "every 2 years". So there. Next symposium  
> will be in 2007, probably in London. Not in august, hopefully :)
> ------------------------end-------------------------
> any error, omission, misunderstanding is solely our own  
> responsibility, mine and of Alessio :-) And any error in  
> translating is my responsibility only. So sue me :)
> P.S.: our deepest thanks to Val for donating the cd-rom of "lessons  
> in signWriting"!!!
> -- 
> +--------------------------------------------------------------------+
> | Barbara Pennacchi               barbara.pennacchi (at) |
> |                 Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche                 |
> |         Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione          |
> |       Via S. Martino della Battaglia 44, 00185 Roma, Italia        |
> |                                   |
> +--------------------------------------------------------------------+

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