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From:  Charles Butler
Date:  Sun May 24, 1998  10:53 am
Subject:  Re: Literacy concepts

Steve/Dianne Parkhurst wrote:
> Hi, Everybody!
> We (Steve and Dianne Parkhurst, in Spain) have been following the
> discussion on SW literacy with much interest. We are currently developing
> materials to teach Deaf adults with the hopes that this will spark a
> national interest in reading and writing SL among the Deaf in Spain. We
> hope to help teach a trial course in February-March next year. We will fill
> you in on how the preparations are going when it gets a bit closer to that
> time. In preparation for this literacy work we have done a lot of reading
> and talking to literacy experts who work with minority spoken languages. I
> see three things that could be important to SW literacy. Let me encourage
> you all to consider them:
> 1. Although SW is great for kids and helpful for hearing interpreters and
> linguists, it is vitally important that Deaf ADULTS become interested in
> reading and writing their language. In Spain, kids learn signs in the Deaf
> school but the signs are replaced with other signs when they become active
> in the Deaf club and learn what the adults are using. SW should not just be
> a "school thing" but part of the adults' daily life too.
> 2. In order for a written language to be successful, you need lots and
> lots of things to read. I am excited to see that Valerie is encouraging
> people to create a base of literature. This literature needs to be
> appropriate for adults too. Let's start putting Deaf poetry, stories,
> history, into SW.
> 3. In desiging a literacy program, we need to allow time to gain fluency.
> We have taught Deaf Spaniards the basic symbols of SW in just a few hours.
> But they never use the knowledge and soon forget the symbols. Why? To learn
> to read and write a language you need TIME and lots of PRACTICE. We need to
> practice reading and writing every day, starting with simple stuff and
> getting more and more complex.
> These are things we are trying to incorporate into our program here in
> Spain. It's not easy! And we are still a long way from having everything
> ready. However, it is all worth the effort. Let's not have people get
> excited about reading and writing their language, learning how, and then
> never having the opportunity to use that skill. They'll become frustrated
> with the whole system and decide it isn't worth anything. This has (sadly)
> happened many times with spoken minority languages around the world. Let's
> keep that from happening with SW!
> I am really excited about how SW is developing in the States and now here
> in Spain. What people are doing with teaching kids and develping kids'
> stories is super great! Keep it up! But now let's move forward a bit and
> start making the system work for Deaf adults too.
> Best wishes to you all,
> Steve and Dianne Parkhurst
Reply to the list.
I have begun to prepare literature in Sign Writing with the various
church assignments I have had. Surely there are others out there who
could load their experiments either to the net or to Valerie for posting
on the web site. Since the Sign Writer Newspaper is not published
regularly anymore, we need to be preparing OUR own body of work, poetry,
prose, performance theatre, whatever. I will be working on a whole
bunch of stuff and loading it to the web. Hope to see y'all's efforts

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