Our SW presentation in Calgary

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Aug 28 05:21:10 UTC 2008

SignWriting List
August 27, 2008

Hello Andre!
I am sooo happy to receive this wonderful email report from you. Thank  
you for sharing this information with the SignWriting List. I am very  
impressed with your research on using SignWriting with Deaf children  
in French-Canada. And your presentation, which you describe so well  
below, sounds like it was a real success...I have made my comments in- 
between your writing below....so please scroll down and read....smile...

Andre Thibeault from French-Canada wrote:
> Hi Val and everyone,
> One Deaf teacher-researcher and I gave our SignWriting (SW)  
> presentation at the conference in Calgary (Western Canada) on July  
> 23rd.  Most participants attending this conference were Deaf.   
> Although we knew that most were against the SW, we showed some video  
> clips to them.  They had different reactions and saw the different  
> behavior and facial attitude towards written French and written (SW)  
> LSQ.  Another video clip showed that when one Deaf student read  
> written LSQ,  raised his hand, stood up, walked up to the wallboard,  
> and told the story of written LSQ to 10 Deaf students while his body  
> showed pride and self-esteem.  One Deaf teacher-researcher gave one  
> example of self-esteem to Deaf participants.  When he read written  
> French, he never showed pride and self-esteem because he never    
> raised his hand and never gave a story of the written French to Deaf  
> students.  After finishing our presentation, two Deaf Californians  
> met us. One was a professor at the CSUN and supported us. The other  
> one, who was a preschool teacher at the school for the Deaf in  
> Fremont, CA, admitted that he insisted on using the SW and said to  
> us: "video clips impact me".  He told us that our SW presentation  
> was wonderful.  He will try to be open-minded using the SW.

Val writes:
This is a very positive experience, Andre! Your story above, about the  
Deaf student showing pride and self-esteem when showing the writing of  
LSQ (the Sign Language used in Quebec), in SignWriting, is the same  
kind of experience that Dr. Cecilia Flood, in the Albuquerque Public  
Schools experienced with her Deaf students there, who sign in ASL.  
Some Deaf students who use sign language everyday find writing their  
language inspiring...

I am very happy about the CSUN professor supporting you. Did you know  
that is where Adam Frost goes to school? Adam is working towards a  
degree in Deaf Education at CSUN (California State University at  
Northridge...near Los Angeles)...And it is great to know about the the  
teacher from Fremont...(Fremont is in the northern section of  
California, and I live in southern California, in San Diego, near the  
Mexican border...California is a large state). The California School  
for the Deaf in Riverside, is nearer to me, and the other branch is in  
Fremont up north...

Nice to hear that people are open-minded...Writing sign languages is  
still a new idea and most people don't realize yet how important it  
will become...As there is more reading material for students, it will  
be easier for teachers because they will have more books written for  
them...that is why we are working on Snow White right now...We are  
about 1/3rd done...but take a look at this new page I have been  
working on...please know it is only partially finished:

Snow White Home Page

Many thanks to Kelly Jo Boal for her hard work in writing Snow White  
from video, and to Adam Frost for helping with editing...


>     However, 4 Deaf teachers have been teaching Deaf students at the  
> school for the Deaf in Milton, in Bellevue, in London (province of  
> Ontario, Central Canada).  They will learn a Sign Font this fall  
> because Dr. Sam Supalla (Deaf professor at The University of  
> Arizona) will show them how to teach a Sign Font using reading and  
> writing.  They believe that a Sign Font is better than a SignWriting  
> because Deaf students learn a bridge between  Sign Font and written  
> English if they gain sufficient vocabulary of English words, and  
> then they don't use Sign Font anymore and are skilled to read and to  
> write English.  They told us that learning SignWriting is a waste of  
> time because the Deaf community doesn't use it and Deaf people who  
> are skilled to read and to write SW cannot obtain jobs in a hearing  
> society.

Val writes:

Ha! I am smiling ;-))

Yes, I know Dr. Sam Supalla...and I admire Sam's whole Deaf family.  
His brother Ted Supalla has always been very kind to me, and the  
Supalla family has been a leader in the Deaf Community here...

SignWriting is not a theory in Deaf Education, as you know.  
SignWriting is an alphabet for writing any Sign Language in the world,  
and technically has nothing to do with Deaf Education. Reading and  
writing any language has value for society in general, whether it is  
used in education or not...

Ironically, SignWriting does seem to help Deaf kids learn to read and  
write English and other spoken languages, and I have never known  
anyone to isolate themselves, just because they can read and write two  
languages...just the opposite...learning to read and write two  
languages opens the door to more communication not less...so  
SignWriting would never take away jobs from Deaf people...in fact it  
can make reading and writing English that much easier, because reading  
and writing in general becomes more inspiring when you have pride in  
your own written language too...

Meanwhile, SignWriting is preserving languages by writing them, so  
whether Deaf Education uses it or not, SignWriting still has a  
purpose....namely to provide written literature in Sign Languages, so  
that generations to come can read the language and will remember how  
people signed long ago etc...

With Sam's educational system (which is not a real writing system),  
the kids are left with only one written form for English, and they are  
essentially not allowed to really read and write their own  
language...it is "taken away from them" before they start to like  
it...which seems a little sad to me ....but they use it in the  
beginning, because they realize that written English is hard for some  
Deaf kids...so in that sense, they are acknowledging that reading and  
writing signs does have some value in Deaf Education...it is strange  
that they are so afraid of learning to read and write both languages  
well...oh well!

Imagine if there was no way to read and write English, but there was a  
way to read and write French....would it be so bad to try to write  
both languages? no...we know that it is useful to have a written form  
for both...whether we use both in our daily lives or not.

>     Although the Deaf community in general does not support SW and  
> (I believe) SF (Sign Font) neither. One Deaf teacher-researcher  
> keeps teaching SW to Deaf kids.  We tried to persuade Deaf and  
> hearing participants to spread SW, however we weren't successful and  
> we keep fighting.

Well, one is better than none! smile...
I think you are very brave and thank you for your hard work and  
pioneering efforts!

Andre -
>     Val, don't be upset.  I believe that you have gained a lot of  
> your experience in the past and the present about/through insisting  
> on and struggling for a SW.  Good news for you, Steve who has been  
> developing a Sign Puddle stays hard at work. Also, Adam who supports  
> you keeps up lots of energy creating animated GIFs.  I am always  
> looking forward to learning Sign Puddle 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, & 9 in the  
> future.

You are so sweet, Andre! I am not upset...quite the opposite. I am  
inspired by your report....

First, you presented SignWriting in Canada - wow - we are blessed!

Second, you had positive reactions from a teacher from CSUN and an  
open-minded teacher from Fremont...That is great to hear my fellow  
Californians keeping an open mind ;-))

Third, you have inspired a young Deaf person to be proud and feel  
positive self-esteem when discussing writing LSQ, and that is the most  
important information of all...

Fourth, you are absolutely right...we are blessed with the ingenious  
software of Steve Slevinski...I thank the Universe for SignPuddle  
everyday...because of Steve's work, we are creating lots of  
SignWriting Literature now and I am very happy about that...and Adam's  
animated GIFs are terrific, you are right, and I love his article  
about "Why SignWriting?"...

Have you read that Andre?

When you meet skeptical people, tell them to read this article:

Why SignWriting? by Adam Frost

Thanks again for your report -  It meant a lot to me -

have a wonderful day!

Val ;-)

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