New member from Belgium

Thierry Haesenne thierry.haesenne at ILMH.BE
Wed Oct 26 17:48:03 UTC 2005

Hello everyone, 
I just subscribed to the SW list and I thought I'd introduce myself to
I'm Thierry Haesenne (deaf), and I use LSFB (French Belgian Sign Language - not Walloon
Sign Language as mentioned in the Sign I am a linguist and I work with a hearing
linguist, Damien Huvelle who was at the ESWO conference in Brussels in July along with two other deaf
colleagues, Claude Gerday and Bruno Sonnemans, who regularly come to our research centre on a voluntary
basis. I could not attend the workshop in Brussels as I was on a - very long - trip abroad. After the ESWO
workshop, my colleagues were convinced that SW could bring deaf children to literacy. 
So, when I came
back to work in September, they explained everything to me and I "tried" to learn SW through the
online lessons. While I was still on holidays, my colleagues Damien and Bruno managed to convince two deaf
schools in French-speaking Belgium to use Sign Writing with another transcription system (glosses) that we
are trying to implement in our region, as this helps children become aware of the LSFB grammar and
structure. It is not the glossing system used by Baker and Cokely or other linguists, but a much more visual
system which is very compatible with SW. 
Learning SW is not an easy task for a total beginner... But
after a while, I managed to get hold of almost everything... I still have some trouble for complex movements
(wrist and arm rotation among others). 
As Bruno Sonnemans and myself are LSFB teachers as well, we
decided to set up a SignWriting lexicon for LSFB users and so far we are encoding all the sign variants used
in LSFB, and not just standard signs (the situation here regarding LSFB standardisation is very complex and
I won't give you too many details...). We started borrowing signs from the Flemish and ASL Sign Puddles to
learn how to put movements in SW (handshapes and orientations are no problem for us), but soon, we started
creating our own signs... So far, we have about 1600 signs, which were all put on SW Edit (I cannot get
along with SW Java, sorry but it really gets on my nerves to learn all the codes...). We have created bitmap
pictures and we have distributed it around... We are still waiting for the comments and corrections, as
there are surely many mistakes... Our aim is to have at least 4000 bitmap pictures for everyday use by June
However, it seems that there is a bug with SW Edit : we cannot create SW dictionaries for our
own use... Everytime I created one, the next time I opened SW, the dictionary just would not open (an error
message was appearing on the screen). So, we have put BMP pictures on a CD-Rom and sent it to our
collaborators for them to check. 
We have also introduced SW as an experiment in LSFB classes for
hearing adults. Bruno and myself have taught LSFB and SW to total beginners for about 3 weeks (evening
classes started earlier this month and will last until May 2006). So far, the students' progresses are
astonishing... Last year, it took me twice as much time to teach them the same stuff...
Oh yes, Damien
is in contact with Kathleen from Kasterlinden (Flemish Deaf school), so we should go there pretty soon to
see how it goes...   
That's about everything I wanted to say for now... 
Feel free to
post questions either in French or English if you have some... 
Greetings from Belgium,


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