Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting

1993 was a year rich with accomplishments for our Deaf Action Committee. Here is a summary of some of our 1993 achievements:

Presentations 1993
Without Nancy Frishberg, the following two presentations would not have happened. Thank you so much, Nancy!

1. InterCHI '93 Conference, Amsterdam, April 28, 1993. About 1600 people from around the world attended this computer conference. CHI stands for Computer Human Interfaces. SignWriting and our SignWriter computer program were presented briefly during a panel discussion entitled Sign Language Interfaces.

2. BayCHI Conference, San Francisco, November 9, 1993. Another brief presentation of SignWriter was presented during a panel discussion at this regional computer conference in the San Francisco Bay Area.

SignWriting member Terrence Paden, in Alberta, Canada, went to a great deal of effort to tell Canadians about SignWriting in 1993. Thank you, Terry, for arranging the following presentations:

3. Computers In The Workplace Conference, Alberta, Canada. On March 24th the SignWriter computer program was demonstrated to Deaf and hard-of-hearing students at the Alberta Vocational College.

4. Hearing Awareness Month, Alberta, Canada. Terry Paden and Dr. Ian Kershaw, Executive Director of the Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Services (DHHS) in Calgary, made arrangements for a SignWriter Computer Program demonstration at an Open House celebration on Saturday, May 8th, 1993. It was well attended.

5. Other Sign Writing Events In Alberta, Canada. The April issue of the Calgary Cord newsletter included a questionnaire about Sign Writing. There was not much response, but it was still good publicity! Terry also discussed Sign Writing with several educators, and presented Sign Writing to students at Queen Elizabeth High School.

6. Scranton State School For The Deaf, Pennsylvania. Sign Writing member Joesph Riolo has two Deaf sons, and as a Deaf parent, Joe expressed interest in teaching Sign Writing to his children. Joe took the brave step of arranging a private meeting with educators at the Scranton State School for the Deaf, where his children go to school. Joe wanted to discuss using Sign Writing for Deaf education. Such a new idea met with varying degrees of skepticism, but Joe then wrote a wonderful report on Sign Writing and Deaf education. We hope it will be published in 1994!

7. SignWriter Uploads On Electronic Bulletin Boards.
Announcements about SignWriter, and SignWriter Shareware were posted on electronic bulletin boards throughout 1993, including:

1. COMPUSERVE. Disability Forum Library. Posted 8/13/93.
2. HEX BBS. Posted 8/22/93.
3. IKE: IBM Kiosk for Education (Internet server). Posted 9/9/93.
4. HANDICAP NEWS Bulletin Board Service. Posted 9/16/93.
5. HANDICAP NEWS FTP Archive (Internet). Posted 9/29/93.
6. SilentTalk (FIDONET). Posted 9/16/93.
7. SLLING.L (Internet). Posted 9/17/93
8. DEAF.L (Internet). Posted 9/17/93.

Software Development 1993
Without Richard Gleaves, the designer & computer programmer of SignWriter, the following accomplishments would never have happened. Many thanks, Rich, for your dedication, perseverence, and donations of time, energy and information.

1. SignWriter, version 4.2a. The SignWriter computer program was improved in 1993. Rich added several new features, including:

· Improved commands in the English version.
· Improved Dictionary Manager.
· More sophisticated use of the Tab Key.
· Easier deletion of blank spaces and blank lines.

2. Lessons In SignWriting Online. Rich spent several months preparing this electronic version of the First Edition of the textbook Lessons In Sign Writing. Rich re-typed and improved the old textbook, explaining each symbol on the SignWriter keyboard step-by-step. This was a monumental task - but well worth it - since the Lessons on disk make learning Sign Writing and SignWriter easier for everyone. This electronic version of Lessons In Sign Writing is now included in both the SignWriter Computer Program Package and in SignWriter Shareware.

3. Reference Manual Online. When people download shareware, they have not purchased any books explaining the computer program. It is necessary, therefore, to have a reference manual accompanying the shareware. When people purchase the SignWriter Computer Package, they receive several manuals printed in book form. One of these manuals is the SignWriter Reference Manual, by Rich Gleaves. To complete the SignWriter Shareware package, Rich created an electronic version of the SignWriter Reference Manual.

4. SignWriter Shareware. SignWriter was uploaded as shareware on CompuServe in August, 1993. People who use electronic mail can now download the entire shareware package, without charge, onto their computers. By the end of 1993, over 50 people had downloaded SignWriter! Rich also arranged for the shareware to be available through other electronic mail services, such as InterNet and the Handicap BBS.

Publications 1993

1. Letter To The Editor In The Atlantic Monthly. There were a series of articles on deafness, published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1993. Richard Gleaves wrote a letter to the editor, explaining that there is now a way to read, write and type signs. The letter was published in part in the December issue.

2. Sign Writer Newsletter. Usually we publish the newsletter twice a year, but we did not have the funds in 1993. We hope to publish twice in 1994, pending funding.

3. Lessons In Sign Writing, Second Edition. Valerie Sutton has been writing the Second Edition for over a year now! In 1993, twenty people were sent portions of the Second Edition. It is hoped that it will be completed in 1994. The Second Edition is loaded with illustrations - for example, Chapter 2-Hands, is over 80 pages of diagrams and pictures.

4. ASL-English Dictionary, Second Edition. Members of our Deaf staff entered over 2000 new signs into our ASL dictionary in 1993. The Second Edition, which should include around 3000 signs, is now being edited for final publication, sometime in 1994.

Many Thanks...

1. To Our 1993 Sponsors...Without them, our work in 1993 could not have been possible! Thanks to the R.C. Baker Foundation, the Edwards Foundation, the Garfield Foundation, the Fieldstead Company, the Hoag Foundation, Home Savings of America, the Hughes Give-Once-Clubs, the Hunt-Wesson Corporation, the Permanent Charities Committee, the Rockwell Donate-Once-Club, the Dr. Seuss Foundation, Wells Fargo Bank, the Wynn Foundation and many individual sponsors. All contributed to our success!

2. To Our Staff Members...You did a great job in 1993! Thanks to Lucinda O'Grady Batch, Bonita Ewan, Richard Gleaves, Kathleen Say, Denny Voreck and George "Butch" Zein.

3. To Our Board Members...Thank you for attending our annual membership meeting, held February 7, 1993, 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. Staff members Kathleen Say and Butch Zein came to the meeting. Jennifer Whitson from the Dayle Macintosh Center interpreted.

A Special Tribute To....
Harry Weissenberger...Harry has been a loyal member of our Board of Directors since the beginning of our organization. His contributions of legal assistance has been greatly appreciated all these years. Now Harry cannot continue as a member of the Board...and we will sorely miss him. Thank you, Harry, for all you have done for us!


We Would Like To Welcome...
Conrad Hanson...as a new member of our Board of Directors, starting in 1994. Conrad, who has been a staunch supporter of Sign Writing for years, has accepted the position vacated by Harry Weissenberger. So glad to have you with us, Conrad!

Who Else Used SignWriting In 1993?
SignWriting 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 1993 were:

1. Norwegian Sign Language Project...SignWriting has been used in Norway since1988. 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 our manuals and textbooks from English to Norwegian.

In 1993, Ingvild wrote a new book in Norwegian and Norwegian Sign Language on Sign Writing. The new book is entitled:

Å Lese og Skrive Tegn med Suttons SignWriting
Reading And Writing Signs In Sutton SignWriting
Norwegian ISBN: 82-7604-006-3

To obtain a copy, contact:

Ingvild Roald
Norwegian School For Deaf Youths
Bjørkåsen Videregående Skole i Vestlandet Kompetansesenter
Nedre Bjørkåsen 15, N-5050 Nesttun, NORWAY.
Telephone: 47-55-13-46-30.

A second and very important project in Norway is the work on the Norwegian Sign Language dictionary, using Sign Writing. At this time, over 3000 Norwegian signs are entered into the SignWriter computer program, but these signs still need to be edited. It may take time before the dictionary is published. It is a monumental task to create a new dictionary, but when it is finished, it will truly be valuable. Contact Ingvild for information on projected publication dates.

2. Mexican Sign Language Project...Participants are linguists Karla Faurot Hurst and her husband, Mike Hurst. Back in 1992, Karla and others lived in Mexico, 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.

Now, at the end of 1993, there are over 3000 signs in the Mexican Sign Language dictionary, and Karla and Mike are planning to continue work on the project in 1994.

3. Colombian Sign Language Project...Participants are linguists Dianne Dellinger Parkhurst and her husband, Steve Parkhurst from the Summer Institute of Linguistics . They formerly worked on the Mexican Sign Language project (see above). They now hope to begin work in Colombia in 1994-1995. The project is in the planning stage.

4. Nicaraguan Sign Language Project...Directed by linguist Judy Shepard Kegl. Judy and others have made several trips to Nicaragua in the past several years. The project involves recording Nicaraguan signs into a Nicaraguan Sign Language dictionary, using Sign Writing. The project is still in the beginning phase.

5. British & International Sign Language Projects ...Dr. Bencie Woll and others at the Centre For Deaf Studies at the University of Bristol, in Bristol, England have been using our SignWriter computer program for several years, for different projects. One project in 1993 involved typing vast amounts of sign language from video tapes. One of the Deaf people working on the project is Jon Martin Brauti from Norway. Jon typed volumes of signs receptively into documents on the computer. Jon sent our Deaf Action Committee some of his files in December, 1993, because we were working together on program bugs and other details. In the process, we printed out some of Jon's typing in SignWriter. Jon has done stunning work - it is really beautiful! And members of our Deaf Action Committee could read much of what he typed. We have taken the liberty to attach a sample of one page typed by Jon...it is on the next page. It is very gratifying for us to see SignWriter being used so well!