USA Informing ASL Teachers About SignWriting

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Jan 31 18:13:54 UTC 2006

Hello Barbara!
Wonderful message..I agree and have experienced every issue you  
mentioned below...By the way, for those who can use QuickTime on your  
web browsers, we have some new videos on the web to view directly in  
your web browser, of Deaf people signing in ASL discussing  
SignWriting issues...It takes a fast connection to the internet to be  
able to view these online, and I plan to make a Special Feature about  
them in the next week or so, but right now, if you want to look, tell  
me if you can view them!

Go to: (media on the web)

and type in the search word


and press Search

and you will find four SignWriting videos listed...follow the links  
to view the videos...

Val ;-)


On Jan 30, 2006, at 10:40 PM, Barbara O'Dea wrote:

> Hmmmm, advice. I have none really. What I do know is that Deaf  
> people have much to offer in their understanding of where a written  
> signed language fits in their community. (I'm only familiar with  
> the North American situation, and most familiar with the Canadian  
> scene.)
> Let me give you two examples of legitimate questions/concerns of  
> members of the Deaf community I have discussed writing ASL with.
> First, some (I suspect many) Deaf people are uncomfort with written  
> English, but they are aware that they must continuously use it if  
> they are to maintain proficiency in it. These Deaf people wonder  
> what the advantage is to having a written signed language when most  
> of their daily lives are filled with using written English for  
> everything and, therefore, they must be as good at is as they can be.
> A second concern is that ASL could go the way of manually coded  
> English systems. Some Deaf people note that although Deaf children  
> are forced to use signed English systems at school, they do not use  
> them when they are outside school and they are generally not used  
> in the Deaf community. So, it seems these systems are useful to  
> hearing people, but in a self-serving way for those (often  
> educators) who will not, have not, or cannot learn ASL.  
> Additionally, it is probably educators, the majority of whom are  
> hearing, who are making the final decision about writing ASL.
> If we listen to the genuine concerns of the Deaf community, I think  
> we will find both their questions and their insights invaluable.
> As for me? I think I said this recently, but I will repeat it here  
> - If Deaf children can bring literacy in their first language to  
> English, I believe it would be a great advantage. BUT, my belief is  
> not enough, we need research.
> So, no advice. Just lots of hope. odeeodee
> Valerie Sutton wrote:
>> SignWriting List
>> January 30, 2006
>> Barbara - You are absolutely right about this...Excellent point.  
>> There is a history behind these issues, related to oppression.
>> What advice can you give all of us? How would you approach this? I  
>> am very interested in your advice (or anyone else's advice)...  
>> smile...
>> Val ;-)
>> ---------------------
>> On Jan 30, 2006, at 11:01 AM, Barbara O'Dea wrote:
>>> If we think of the problem as one of ignorance, pride and  
>>> politics that can be overcome with information, explanations and  
>>> descriptions, we may be on the wrong road to change. I expect  
>>> that a change in cultural views, that have evolved in a milieu of  
>>> oppression and paternalism, will take a great deal more than  
>>> providing information. I thing the task of getting Deaf  
>>> communities to accept a written system for their signed langauges  
>>> must include dealing with those deep-rooted cultural mores.

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