Four SignWriting Levels...Goldilocks and Snow White

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Apr 20 22:45:06 UTC 2010

SignWriting List
April 20, 2010

Hello Maria!
Thank you for this message, and as Adam has confirmed, your message made it to the List...

Regarding the four SignWriting Levels of Goldilocks...I am also coming out with four SignWriting Levels for Snow White in ASL as well. Snow White Level One is now a published book, although not posted on the web yet...

I developed the four SignWriting reading levels for the SignWriting Literacy Project in 1998 -

SW1 - SignWriting Level 1: WorkBook and Coloring Book for Beginners
Individual signs that are used in later levels are presented on pages with illustrations and some pages in the workbook ask beginners to write rows of one sign...repeating the handwriting of one sign at a time...I do not mean only symbols in rows, but actually writing a complete sign, like the sign for SNOW, many times in a vertical row, to give the student practice. So they learn vocabulary that will be used in later levels, and they can color the illustrations that are used in later levels. Although Level 1 is obviously geared for children because it is a coloring book, actually the workbook exercises are useful for all beginners, no what their ages...

SW2 - SignWriting Level 2: Basic Storybook
This is a shortened version of the story, not based on any video, but written directly in SignWriting, in short sentences, with fairly simple signs, and the sentences usually are written with only a Center Lane, to give readers their first experience in reading full sentences. There are no more than 2 vertical columns of writing per page. The sign language sentences are then translated into simple spoken language. Both languages are written with large type for beginning readers. All signs in the sign-sentences can be looked up in a little dictionary in the back of the Level 2 book, for reference. Darline wrote her stories directly in ASL for this purpose. Writing directly in sign language, doing no translation from any spoken language, and not basing it on any video, is the best way to get simple writing of a shortened version of the story.

SW3 - SignWriting Level 3: Intermediate Storybook
This is a video transcription of ASL storytelling, with medium size SignWriting symbols, medium size spoken language translation, and colorful illustrations. The SignWriting sentences have full facial expressions, role shifting, all three Lanes are used to show the grammar of the language. Writing storytelling from ASL video provides an advanced story, but at the intermediate level there are no more than three vertical columns on one page and there is a spoken language translation on each page.

SW4 - SignWriting Level 4: Advanced Storybook
The same video transcription used in Level 3 is now reduced to smaller size SignWriting symbols, with at least 4 vertical columns to a page, and NO spoken language translation. It is pure sign language reading material, with fewer illustrations.

As the sizes of the SignWriting symbols reduce, the reader starts to read for meaning, rather than trying to figure out SignWriting symbols and spellings...Whole signs are recognized for meaning quickly, without analysis.

To start developing these levels, you need to find an excellent storyteller in sign language, and videotape the story. From there, break down the story into important vocabulary that the signer used in that videotape, and from there you can start Level 1....Then ask the same storyteller, to sit down and write the story themselves in SignWriting directly without looking at any video, and ask them to write the simple story using some of the same vocabulary...Then a skilled video transcriptionist transcribes the storytelling video, and the full transcription is used for Levels 3 and 4. You can reduce the size of type in SignPuddle using ColumnMaker, or drag and drop the sentences into programs that do auto reduction. That is how we developed the four SignWriting reading levels - 

Hope this helps!!

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at


On Apr 20, 2010, at 2:19 PM, MARIA AZZOPARDI wrote:

> Dear Valerie,
> I was wondering if you could explain to me how you worked on the different
> levels for Goldilocks? It's very interesting. I can see that level 2 was
> written directly by Darline. What technique was used for the other levels?
> I would love to write something for four levels of LSM signwriting,
> perhaps using the same format, would this be possible?
> Thanks
> maria
> ps: could you confirm that this email got to the signwriting list also?
> i've never received any confirmations and i've sent perhaps two or three
> emails since we moved to new server

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