Teaching Signwriting to deaf children in Tunisia A PROPOSAL FOR ALL

James Shepard-Kegl kegl at MAINE.RR.COM
Sun Dec 22 22:08:25 UTC 2013


I think you and I are going to have to respectfully disagree.

I would point out some issues for all:

1)  The methodology that Stefan has described is not a BILINGUAL approach; rather, it is a BI-MODEL methodology.  Signed German is not a language different from German; it is a manual form of German.  Use it if you must; but recognize it for what it is.

2)  Referring to name-signs in SignWriting as pictograms may be appropriate for a Deaf child on his or her first day of school, but know this:  by that logic, showing the kid his written German name is also using a pictogram.

3)  It truly is more difficult to write a sign than to recognize one.  But, that is true of written English and German, too.  Both othorgraphic systems are phonetic systems: German employs an aural based phonetic code; SignWriting is, if you will, a VISUALLY PHONETIC system.  Most hearing children use a whole word approach when learning to read, but understand that the code itself is based on sounds that are put together to form words.  AND HERE IS MY POINT:  To Deaf chidren, a written German word is a pictogram -- a jumble of otherwise pointless letters whose order must be memorized.  But, when shown how SignWriting works, these children can immediately appreciate the concept that writing systems use a code.  In the case of SignWriting, that code is merely symbols for handshapes, movement and direction, contact, location, etc.  Only when a Deaf child recognizes this, can he or she solve the mystery of how hearing people can so consistently spell words in German so accurately
 .  You see, as a hearing person I can quickly relate to the concept that SignWriting is a visually phonetic code.  First, I am not blind, so I can see that it is.  Second, I am already comfortable with the notion of an aurally phonetic writing system.  Alas, the Deaf child -- or the profoundly deaf child, anyway -- may never actually know what a sound is, just like chldren born totally blind cannot imagine colors.  But with SignWriting, the Deaf child might grasp the idea of a sound based writing code by analogy.

-- James  



Valerie Sutton
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