Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting

1992 was a year rich with accomplishments for our Deaf Action Committee. Below is a summary of 1992 achievements:

Presentations & Exhibits

1. Southern California Recreation Association of the Deaf, San Diego (SCRAD). Second Annual Deaf Festival...May 16th, 1992. Thirty minute lecture demonstration on Sign Writing by Valerie Sutton. All-day exhibit booth: Karen van Hoek & Valerie Sutton. Location: Kearny Mesa Recreation Center, San Diego.

2. Annual Deaf Kid's Festival...June 10th, 1992. All-day exhibit on Sign Writing: Linda McCue & Valerie Sutton. Location: Oceanside Recreation Center, San Diego.

3. Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research Conference...August 5th, 1992. Presenter: Lucinda O'Grady Batch. Location: University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Special poster presentation. Lucinda stood next to a big poster board display of Sign Writing, answering questions for two hours from conference attendees.

SignWriter Computer Program

The SignWriter computer program was the crowning achievement of 1992! Programmer Richard Gleaves and inventor Valerie Sutton worked long hours from May, 1992 - February, 1993 to complete SignWriter, version 4.1. New features and other developments include:

1. Types Signs & Fingerspelling From Eleven Countries. SignWriter now supports Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, Sweden and the USA. Commands appear on the screen in one of seven spoken languages: Danish, English, French, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish or Swedish.

2. Expanded Dictionary Definitions. Users are able to type paragraphs of spoken language in the dictionary to describe the derivation of each sign, verb conjugations and grammar usage. This feature is important for linguists, educators and beginning signers.

3. Automatic Centering of Signs. Improves the look of documents, centering signs from left to right.

4. Improved Dictionary Printing. A new Dictionary Printing Program now produces laser-quality print-outs, with automatic page numbers, look-up words at the top of each page, and headers for different sections of the dictionary.

5. Other Dictionary Improvements. One dictionary file used to hold 7,200 signs. Now one dictionary file can hold up to 10,800 signs. Alphabetizing in seven spoken languages was also improved.

6. Postscript Printing. With this feature, SignWriter now prints on postscript-compatible laser printers, as well as Epson-compatible and Hewlett-Packard-compatible printers.

7. SignWriter Electronic Mail...Sign Writing can now be reached by E-mail through CompuServe. Our CompuServe address is: 71342,1407. People can send mail and files to us through their computer.

8. SignWriter Can Now Run On The Macintosh! One of the most important developments this year, SignWriter can now run on the Macintosh with a remarkable piece of software called SoftPC (not developed by us), that turns the Macintosh into an IBM PC, MS-DOS machine. SoftPC can be purchased in computer and software stores. Because of this, we no longer are selling our old Macintosh desk accessories, SignBank I and II. We now have one piece of software: SignWriter, which can be used on either the IBM PC or Macintosh.


1. Lessons In SignWriter...Second Edition. Author: Valerie Sutton. Published: November, 1992. One of three instruction manuals included with the SignWriter computer program, version 4.l.

2. SignWriter-At-A-Glance...Second Edition. Author: Valerie Sutton. Published: December, 1992. One of three instruction manuals included with the SignWriter computer program, version 4.l. This Second Edition totally revamped and improved the first edition. New chapters and diagrams were added.

3. SignWriter Reference Manual...Second Edition. Author: Richard Gleaves. Published: November, 1992. One of three instruction manuals included with the SignWriter computer program, version 4.l. Several new sections were added. Format was coordinated with other manuals.

4. SignWriter Newsletter...Spring, 1992. Authors: Minnie Mae Wilding-Diaz, Karen van Hoek, and Valerie Sutton. Twenty page newsletter printed in March and distributed to 43 countries in mid-April.

5. SignWriter Newsletter...Fall, 1992. Authors: Ingvild Roald, Karen van Hoek, Valerie Sutton and George (Butch) Zein. Twenty page newsletter printed in October and distributed to 43 countries in November.

Many Thanks...

1. To Our 1992 Sponsors...Without them, our work in 1992 could not have been possible! Thanks to the R.C. Baker Foundation, the Marjorie Mosher Schmidt Foundation, the Union Bank Foundation, the Wynn Foundation, Las Patronas, the Rockwell Donate-Once-Club, the Hughes Give-Once-Clubs, Home Savings of America, the Hunt-Wesson Corp., and many individual sponsors. All contributed to our success!

2. To Our Board Members...Thank you for attending our annual membership meeting, held January 19, 1992, in Newport Beach, Calif. Thanks to...James Lucas, Norman Potter, William Schallert (could not attend meeting), Paul, Doris & Valerie Sutton, and Harry Weissenberger. Good friends Conrad Hanson and Roberta Sherrill Comer also attended.

3. To Our Staff Members...You did a great job in 1992...Thanks to...Lucinda Batch, Richard Gleaves, Kathleen Say, Dr. Karen van Hoek, Nancy Ellen Woo and George (Butch) Zein. Congratulations to Karen van Hoek for receiving her Ph.D in 1992!

Who Else Used Sign Writing In 1992?

Sign Writing is not only used by our Deaf Action Committee in Southern California. It is also used by groups and individuals all over the world. Some important projects in 1992 were:

1. Norwegian Sign Language Project...Sign Writing has been used in Norway for several years. Thanks to the dedication of Ingvild Roald, a teacher of the Deaf at Bjørkåsen Skole in Bergen, Norway, interest began to spread among Norwegian Deaf people. Ingvild has been encouraging Deaf people to use our SignWriter computer program and did the translations of the SignWriter manuals and textbooks from English to Norwegian. The Norwegian government sponsored these translations. In 1992, the Norwegian Broadcasting Network (NRK) aired a television program in March and July, which briefly discussed Sign Writing. Sign Writing is recognised by the Norwegian National University Council as a subject that, combined with other subjects, qualifies for university admittance. Ingvild traveled to California and stayed with Valerie Sutton in her home for two weeks at the end of October, 1992. Together they worked out plans for continued collaboration. Bjørkåsen Skole will be one of the testing sites for the new version of our SignWriter computer program. To obtain the Norwegian translations of our SignWriter manuals, contact: Ingvild Roald, Bjørkåsen Skole, Nedre Bjørkåsen 15, 5050 Nesttun, NORWAY.

2. Mexican Sign Language Project...Participants: Linguists Karla Faurot, Dianne Dellinger, Andrew Eatough, and Steve Parkhurst from the Summer Institute of Linguistics. The group lived in Mexico for the first half of 1992, collecting over 1000 Mexican signs. These signs were typed in Sign Writing into a dictionary file on the computer, using our SignWriter program. The group then returned to the United States in the summer of 1992, to confer with linguist Al Bickford from the Summer Institute of Linguistics; to edit the dictionary; and to write papers summarizing their efforts. In their summaries, they suggested to the Wycliff Bible Translators to use Sign Writing to help in the recording of translations of the Bible into Mexican Sign Language. It is hoped that a group can return to Mexico to do final editing on the dictionary, and that it will someday be published.

3. Book of Mormon Translation Project...Participants: Minnie Mae Wilding-Diaz, Jack Rose, Douglas Hind and several others from the Church of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. They are using Sign Writing and our SignWriter computer program to record translations of the Book of Mormon into American Sign Language.

4. Danish Sign Language Project...Sign Writing has been used in Denmark since 1982, but in the past few years, a linguist, Karen Albertsen (and others) from the Deaf Center For Total Communication in Copenhagen, Denmark, have designed their own special computer program on the Macintosh, using Sign Writing. At the moment the program is only in Danish, but plans are being made to translate it into other languages. Called TegnBank , which means "SignBank" in Danish, the program is a linguistic data base for dictionaries of signs. Now that TegnBank is done, they plan to start building a large Danish Sign Language dictionary in Sign Writing in the computer in 1992 - 1993.

5. Italian Sign Language Project...Marco and Maddalena Consolati, from the Cooperativa DIRE in Torino, Italy, began working with SignWriter in 1991. In 1992, our SignWriter computer program was distributed to approximately 30 signers in Italy. A research group consisting of teachers of the Deaf, linguists and interpreters, worked on creating an Italian Sign Language dictionary in the computer. Group members include Daniele Chiri, Corrado Gallo, Anna Sapuppo, Marco & Maddalena Consolati, and others from the Cooperativa DIRE organization. Announcements were made about Sign Writing to the Italian Deaf Community through their newsletter "SBALORDIRE" and on RAI Televideo (Italian National TV Network).