[sw-l] SignWriting at Jordanstown Schools

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Feb 10 18:36:09 UTC 2005

SignWriting List
February 10, 2005

On Feb 10, 2005, at 9:54 AM, Shane Gilchrist Ó hEorpa wrote:
> I will see Stephen Clarke, the headteacher at Jordanstown Schools (the 
> deaf
> school in North Belfast - people usually refer to it as Belfast Deaf 
> School)
> on Wednesday. We will discuss the possibility of me teaching 
> SignWriting to
> the deaf kids there. Any advice here?

Wonderful, Shane. I hope others will give their advice too...

You can join the SignWriting Literacy Project. Plus, you can download 
and print the ASL versions of the materials used in the Literacy 
Project, and then, like Kathleen and Sara, you will need to translate 
those materials into your Sign Language...Those are the same books 
which Kathleen and Sara just showed Stefan, and sent to me by mail...It 
is a little bit of a job to do the translation, but it is a good 
exercise because you will learn SignWriting that way, and we are all 
here to help you...It gives me structure to our Lessons Online if you 
ask questions while you are translating...;-))


To join the Literacy Project...
Fill out Teachers Web Report 1, by writing your answers inside an email 
message, and post it to the SignWriting List.

Web Report 1:

Then download these materials and start the translation process...

1. What materials are used?

2. Goldilocks Workbook Level 1

3. Goldilocks Storybook Level 2

4. ASL-English Picture Dictionary for Children

5. SignBank Dictionary Database & Other Software

6. Lessons In SignWriting Introduction (Manual)

7. Lessons In SignWriting Basics (Manual)

8. Lessons in SignWriting Textbook

9. About SignWriting


ASL SignWriting Literacy Project

The SignWriting Literacy Project is pioneering a new concept in Deaf 
Education. SignWriting books, videos and software are donated to 
classes of Deaf students. In return, teachers, students and parents 
provide documented feedback. The results are published on the 
SignWriting Web Site.

SignWriting is a way to read, write and type any signed language. All 
materials donated to the schools are written in American Sign Language 
(ASL), authored by Deaf native ASL signers. The SignWriting videos are 
taught in ASL with English voice-over. Fluency in reading and writing 
American Sign Language is used as a bridge to teach written English. 
Although this is a new project, feedback is already coming in, and the 
results are positive.

The project began in 1998. Below are some sample web pages about one 
participating school.

Albuquerque Public Schools
SignWriting Literacy Project

Would you like your school to participate? Your students must be Deaf 
and use Sign Language. One teacher must be online, so they can receive 
technical support through email. Write for more information:

The SignWriting Literacy Project
The DAC, Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting
P.O. Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
Tel: 858-456-0098...Fax: 858-456-0020
Email: Sutton at SignWriting.org
Web:   http://www.SignWriting.org



Symbols widen deaf children's understanding

By David Hasemyer

March 9, 2003

If you are a hearing person reading the word "house," you're able to 
immediately visualize in your mind's eye a dwelling that has a door, 
windows and perhaps a front yard.

But for a deaf child who has never heard the word "house" spoken 
before, seeing it might elicit no mental image whatsoever. It would be 
akin to a hearing person trying to decipher Japanese characters.

Now deaf children have their own written language, one that enables 
them to conjure up a mental image that matches the word "house."

It is based on the sign language, the method of communication the deaf 
are most comfortable with and fluently use.

It's called SignWriting and it was developed by Valerie Sutton, a La 
Jolla woman who wanted to give deaf children a written language of 
their own.

"SignWriting triggers in their brain that the symbol they see 
translates into something real, like a house or a bus," Sutton said.

The success of SignWriting in the elementary schools of Albuquerque, 
N.M., was outlined in a California Educators of the Deaf conference 
seminar yesterday in Mission Valley.

The program is used in 27 countries, though Sutton said she is not 
aware of it being used in any San Diego County schools.

For children born deaf or who become deaf early in life, sign language 
is their first language. English is their second language, and an often 
difficult and frustrating concept to grasp.

SignWriting uses a system of graphic symbols that closely replicate the 
hand gestures of sign language. It connects the two and has some 
teachers praising it as a significant teaching tool for deaf children. 
SignWriting is essentially the ABCs of sign language, essentially an 
alphabet for writing the movements of the hands and fingers used in 

"It brings their world alive," said Lorraine Crespin, a teacher at 
Hodgin Elementary School in Albuquerque. "You can see it in their 
faces. It's like that light bulb going off."

Instinctively deaf children are able to pick up SignWriting, she said. 
"You can put it in front of them and watch their faces. You can see it 

SignWriting makes the deaf child's integration into the mainstream 
world of English speakers a little less difficult.

"This gives them some confidence to make the transition a little 
easier," said Hodgin teacher Kate Lee.

"Think how important that is for a child to be able to communicate 
ideas and thoughts in a way that they have never had before. It opens 
the world to them."

David Hasemyer: david.hasemyer at uniontrib.com

Copyright 2003 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

Find this article at:

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