[sw-l] New Keyboard Demonstration Software

Bill Reese wreese01 at TAMPABAY.RR.COM
Sun Feb 13 18:19:28 UTC 2005

I searched online for Japanese and Chinese keyboards - to see how those
languages handled a large number of characters and, it was essentially
what SignWriting has always needed to do:  a standard QWERTY keyboard
layout is used and more keypresses are needed to access all the


Sandy Fleming wrote:

>>-----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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