[sw-l] New Keyboard Demonstration Software

Sandy Fleming sandy at FLEIMIN.DEMON.CO.UK
Sun Feb 13 16:14:21 UTC 2005

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
> [mailto:owner-sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu]On Behalf Of Ronald Dettloff
> Sent: 12 February 2005 15:59
> To: sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
> Subject: Re: [sw-l] New Keyboard Demonstration Software
> How about a completely new keyboard designed especially for SignWriting?
> Pastor Ron and Judy Dettloff
> Home of the SignBible -   http://cyberjer.com/signbibl/index.htm
> Write me: signpreach at hotmail.com

The keyboard I have suggested uses only the letters a to z for typing
handshapes and is like this:

    o    26 handshapes are accessible with a single keypress;

    o    about 300 handshapes can be made available by having the rest
typable with two keypresses (where it's not necessary to worry about typing
order, eg "bx" gives the same handshape as "xb");

The SSS-US has 80 handshapes but we probably would need more for any
requests that were made for new handshapes. This can happen because:

    o    a handshape, perhaps in a dialect, was missed when designing the

    o    a new handshape enters the language (this happened recently in BSL
where a handshape not previously used came to be used to sign "The National

    o    some users want to be able to mix sign languages and we decide the
handshapes of some languages are similar enough to make a combined keyboard

The keyboard I've got covers all this nicely, except of course there aren't
enough keys to allow as to type all handshapes with a single keypress.
Twenty-six single-keypress handshapes is probably better than it looks
though, because if we make these the most common handshapes in the language
(as a general rule, not necessarily disallowing exceptions), then they might
cover something like 70 or 80% of actual typing (we shouldn't necessarily
aim for the statistical ideal - we need to also chose the keys so that the
key combinations make some sort of sense to learners - ie the way I'm using
fingerspelling as a memory aid).

So as far as I can see, the only way to improve on this with an especially
designed SignWriting keyboard would be if the new keyboard had at least 80
to 100 handshape keys for doing single-keypress handshapes. This is a big
keyboard and perhaps more difficult to type with due to the distances

As I said last week, I'm redesigning the keyboard to type handshapes with
letters and numbers. This keyboard will be like this:

    o    36 handshapes are accessible with a single keypress;

    o    about 600 handshapes can be made available by having the rest
typable with two keypresses;

This is even better and as I design it I'm finding that I can also get the
memory aids to be much clearer than on just 26 keys. However, the fingers do
have to move more to reach all 36 keys so it's not necessarily going to be
the preferred keyboard. My money is on the 36 letter keyboard at the moment
but we'll see.

I suppose I'd better not just redesign the keyboard but also do a bit of
programming to allow people to select different keyboards so that everybody
can compare them and see what they think is best.

Of course all this depends very much on feedback from as many SignWriting
users as possible to determine which keyboard is preferred and what sort of
adjustments we want to make - or maybe someone will come up with something
completely different that works even better!


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