Date: Mon Aug 16, 1999 9:14
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: contact - mistakes are our friends :-)
Dear Valerie, August 15th 1999
this week I`ve been very active in getting more familiar with SW.
First of all let me tell you that again and again I feel very lucky to get
in touch with this instrument.
Your idea of developing this SW-system is so fascinating that I can ±² help
but work and work on it in order to get acquainted with what seems so
obvious to you.
That ±± my first point.
Did you ever - write an article or a report about your ideas and the new
insights which came to you during the process of developing and elaborating
I mean that I (maybe other beginners as well) could prefer from more insight
in your process of developing all the different symbols.
To look through your eyes at Sign Languages around the world may help to
realize aspects and needs for the various aspects that are important for
the transfer of meaningful expressions by movements to a written form.
How to teach the system to myself?
As an experienced autodidact in other fields I try to find my way.
First step: I ±> positiv that my didication to my ideas concerning deaf
education, my enthusiasm for DGS is one of the foundations I can count on.
Second - teacher like you - who are themselves convinced of their ideas and
who are sharing their satisfaction and happiness with what they are living
for inspire me and reinforce my efforts.
The advantage is that this SW-thing seems to be selfreinforcing. Its not for
another goal .- Psychologists speak of intrinsic motivation, flow -
experiences - something like this happens to me.
I ±> absolutely confident that it will help me tremendously with my little
deaf pupils. (While the hearing beginners at school start with reading the
words from the very first day - just naming the pictures shown together with
the words - the deaf are obviously unable to do so.
With your system it can change. My plans are to combine SW with written
words /photos or pictures or actions and signed conversation starting with
the first days of school-life of my new little pupils. Almost like
flash-cards. (I can write the name of the pupil together with the SW symbol
beneath a photo of the child.)
So we need to develop the sign-names of the pupils.
I already talked to the parents. One family - I ±_ l tell in the future more
about them - are all deaf. They showed great interest. Another mother of a
multiple disabeled daughter was interested too. I`ll talk to the other
parents in the first week of September.
Same thing (introduction of SW) can happen to other nouns (car, ball,
flower, book, pencil )
The enormous advantage of Your System is the direct transfer from what the
signer is doing quite effortlessly to the writtten (and now) fixed form.
Second step: Go for it -
I downloaded as much as possible from the signW.organisation to my
computer. So off-line I can browse as long as I want to (as long as my
family allows J Of course they don ±² accept to be neglected and especially
the elder boys need to be taken outside for biketours, socker ...)
While browsing through the pages I find almost every day something new.
Slowly I catch this or that and get oriented within very small steps.
(I look at my son Gordian. Isn ±² it amazing for how long he practices to
stand, to stick things together, to voice all kinds of different sounds - he
doesn ±² get nervous, bored or angry - he takes his time knowing that his
potentials will enroll when his time has come - as long as all the
circumstances are nourishing and very supportiv!)
Same lesson seems so dificult to me. I ±> lucky that you are there offering
your help whenever I contact you!
I started to copy the basic signs - enlarged them and fixed them at the
wallpaper . Going up or down the stairs you have a look at this.
How did you decide to mark the handsymbol with this gap if the hand is
parallel to the floor?
I try to figure out what kind of explanations I might offer to my pupils.
What made you initially think of this difference?
I haven ±² learnt your Lessons in SW yet. Maybe you explain in detail -
excuse me for my impatience.
I always get confused with the face. When do I have to add a face symbol?
What is the rule?
I successfully got a download of the SW - computerprogramm.
(Although there are still the problems with my printer, I found a solution
and got wonderful printouts on another computer . Nevertheless I`d love to
get the problem at home solved. )
First of all I wanted to get in contact with the dictionary. By trial and
error I found my way through.
O.K. well - I couldn ±² interpret too many symbols exactly. So one step back
I took the print-outs to town and asked the copy-shop to bind them to a nice
book. (my treasure)
So my workbooks (manual - and Lessons in SW) are now on my table. - ready
Browsing through the pages I felt tired and a little bit hopeless. So many
signs, so many specific details. .. Don ±² worry- take your time. -I heard
myself talking to myself.
I coppied the pages of the three little bears and Goldilocks , Cinderella
It took some time to arrange the SW symbols and the written sentences in
Winword together -
But what was that ?- I realized that I had made a mistake. I c o u l d
r e a d the SW-symbols (just a few) and realized that a specific page
was nonsense. The SW didn ±² belong to the sentence at the bottom of the
Horidooooo mistakes are our friends - I know , but nevertheless - I could
read my first signs
(big big smile, nobody there to hug , it has been deep at night)
So I went back to the SW-Dictionary . I wanted to browse for signs that look
almost the same in DGS. ( cat, cry, red ...)
I did this for a while - and left this task again.
It would be so much easier to learn SW, if could get a long list of German
( My pupils will get that. So, that means that I can look forward to that
So I concentrated on comparing videos (gifs) of ASL - signs (I looked for
them in the internet DWWW and another source in the internet) with SW -
Looking at a symbol I asked myself whether or how I would sign it.
Afterwards I compare my ideas with the videoclip. This way I learn - just by
the way a lot of ASL - signs. Hopefully I do not get mixed up with DGS. ;-)
Yesterday I browsed through the teachers forum. I read many many feed-backs
and reports. I need examples of how to formulate our confirmation letter.
There I read again that the pupils would rather take advantage of the
SW-symbols as one entity.
Don ±² try to analyse and memorize all the different aspects: cat, table,
walk - You can keep that in mind Stefan - I heard talking to myself.
Next step was to take a copy-book without lines. I switched to the Browser
and looked up one SW symbol after the other - sometimes I had to enlarge it
in order to get a better picture. So I painted symbol by symbol into my
copy-book . By doing so I tried to move my arms, head , body - as what I
learned from my painting. (mistakes are our friends!!) I realized as well
how difficult it can be to draw exact and equal forms. (Developing
sensitivity for the efforts of my little friends!)
Big difficulties with drawing the "P" (people, )
Big difficulties with drawing circles (sign, people etc)
One very important aspect of this method is that I really pay a lot of
attention to the exact performance. Never thought about SL as much in the
There might be the danger to become a signing stutterer? (hi hi hi)
But honestly - I get stuck if I try to describe exactly the position of my
palm, of my baby or indexfingers ... are you familiar with this problem?
I really looked up several lists of the German Fingeralphabet - some of them
differ in various aspects. I haven ±² got any problems with reading the
SW-fingerspelling because I ±> used to the Gallaudet fonts. It takes about
10 minutes and my 7 year old son can read the SW- fingerspelling as well -
so that is a great thing! J
In the first moment my wife compared SW with Braille system. We discussed
the differences. You see - SW is family-talk every day.
Don ±² know how to continue. I love to get in touch with other people who
managed to get through. I`ll send you my letter of introduction the next
days and then hopefully the one or other teacher, Signer, DEAF or
SW-instructor will answer to my need of support. When I got the answer from
Brazil I felt very happy! :-)) From time to time I read it again.
When I started to write this letter - my idea was to give you an impression
that I`m really interested. On the other hand , working all on my own isn ±²
too good. So I tried to involve you - just by talking to you on my mind (and
now through my writing) .
Please let me know if you feel uncomfortable with such long explanations.
Have a very good time!