USA SW Symposium in DC

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Jun 1 19:45:10 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
June 1, 2006

  Shane Gilchrist O hEorpa wrote:
> many deafies play the race card by pointing it out "Oh it was  
> invented by a hearing woman!"

That's ok. I know I am handicapped!

> Have u spoken to someone at CSD Riverside yet about introducing  
> Written ASL etc? Ask if they can do a wee research project or  
> something like that - you need to get your feet inside one of the  
> great deaf schools of the USA such as Riverside, Fremont, ...

Yes. I presented a SignWriting seminar at the Riverside School for  
the Deaf years ago with Deaf people by my the mid 1980's,  
and gave away free newspapers to the Deaf staff, spoke with the  
Principal of the school at that time (Deaf) and years later, in the  
early 1990's, a born-Deaf native signer, teacher and councelor from  
the Riverside School for the Deaf chose to work with me, and became a  
DAC can see him on the web and in our videotapes...his  
name is Denny Voreck and he said some cool things..even mentioned the  
Riverside School for the Deaf! and also the Fremont School for the  
Deaf...his interviews are in both Deaf Perspectives videos on Google,  
plus Denny had some influence on the way we write today, adding many  
of the entries into our dictionaries in SignWriter DOS...I have my  
strong supporters here, Shane...but most Deaf people do not realize  
that other Deaf people use it here...

Denny Voreck, Interview 1994

Denny Voreck
Hi. My name is Denny C. Voreck. I graduated from Fremont School For  
The Deaf in 1984, and from Gallaudet in the class of '92, but I am  
loyal to the class of '89.

I heard a lot about SignWriting. I think the first time I heard about  
it was at Cindy O'Grady Batch's wedding. I met Valerie Sutton there.  
She showed me Sign Writing. It looked like Chinese characters to me.  
It was really weird. But I didn't say anything. I thought it was a  
little bit crazy. Later, I asked Cindy if she still worked with  
Valerie Sutton. She said yes, and told me a little bit about it. I  
was skeptical. I thought "Who really cares?"

After I had graduated,I thought "Why not give it a chance? Work with  
it a little bit. It can't hurt to try!" So,I talked with Valerie  
Sutton and later on she called me and said there was a position  
available. I started learning how to write following the rules. It  
was a little frustrating getting to know the system. The palm of the  
hand is represented by white. The back of the hand is represented by  
black. If the symbol is cut, it represents a different plane to show  
the third dimension. As I was trained, I started picking up more and  

I started working at home on my own computer. I could follow my own  
schedule. I really enjoyed that a lot. In the middle of the night, if  
I had nothing to do, I could start working on the SignWriting  
project. As I became more familiar with the SignWriter computer  
program, I was fascinated, and I started to tell my friends about it.

My suggestion for increasing the use of SignWriting would be to start  
a pilot program at a Deaf school, for example, the Fremont or  
Riverside Schools For The Deaf. See if it works. Maybe start at the  
elementary school level and see if the children are successful in  
learning. If it is effective, it may be used as a model nationwide.  
It could be used as a model for Gallaudet University and the  
world...maybe later the Universe! Who knows?!!

Now, I feel that SignWriting is very innovative and different. It is  
unique! All great inventions start with experiments. And sure...a lot  
of experiments fail, but great inventions happen starting with  
experiments. I encourage you to see how compatible SignWriting is  
with ASL. Its success really depends on the Deaf Schools, educational  
systems, administration, the Deaf Community, and politics.

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