forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Sun Jul 4, 1999  12:55 pm
Subject:  Re: SignWriting & Unicode

July 4th, 1999

Good Morning SW List -
I received some interesting private email asking me about Unicode and
SignWriting, and I realized that perhaps all of you may not understand one
important fact....

We do not need Unicode to type SignWriting!

The SignWriter Computer Program already has an outstanding way to type
thousands upon thousands of symbols without Unicode!

People type right now without Unicode, and SignWriter 5.0 will type
hundreds of signed languages without Unicode - and very quickly and easily

I resisted the concept of Unicode completely for years - and with good reason.

Chinese and heiroglyphics and other writing systems are older than 25 years
old. Writing signed languages is very new historically, and SignWriting is
changing everyday as more and more people use the writing system. I will
have to supply the Unicode people with a standard symbol set, for them to
be able to develop Unicode, but meanwhile SignWriting is still evolving. It
is a little early in SW's development.

I am glad SignWriting is changing! I want it to develop naturally, through
use. And it is stablizing more and more now - but it is not completely
stable yet, and I am adding new handshapes to the list of symbols often.

There is no problem doing that, because there are rules for writing all the
handshapes, and we know how to write them all. They just have to be added
to the symbol set in the computer, and there is no problem with doing that
either, because I have an outstanding specially designed symbol editor just
for the SignWriter Computer program (a bitmapped symbol editor), that can
hold thousands upon thousands of symbols. So I just add them when I need
them. And then the SignWriter Computer Program can type them automatically.

But to supply the Unicode people with a finished writing system that will
never change is impossible - but they tell me it will take several years to
develop Unicode anyway, so I will have to send them the new handshapes as
they come in.

Now ....if and when Unicode of SW is finished....then OTHER programmers can
use Unicode if they wish. That will take quite a programmer to devise a
special program for it. But we are not dependent on Unicode. We already
have a typing system. If and when Unicode exists, we can hook the
SignWriter Computer Program into the Unicode glyphs if they seem to be
successful, but meanwhile we already have an outstanding way to type the
SignWriting symbols and I am not waiting for Unicode to proceed, I assure
you! I prefer the way SignWriter types SignWriting, but I am open to new
ways to type SignWriting too.

So Unicode is just an interesting and fun addition, but it is not a necessity.

I want to thank Michael Everson for considering SW for Unicode - I
appreciate his efforts and I know that it is a great deal of work for there is no rush....and slowly we will work together to explore
this new avenue.

Valerie :-)

Valerie Sutton


The DAC, Deaf Action Committee for SW
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

  Replies Author Date
1569 Re: SignWriting & Unicode Angus B. Grieve-Smith Mon  7/5/1999
1602 Re: SignWriting & Unicode Michael Everson Sat  7/31/1999

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