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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Sat Jan 29, 2000  4:03 pm
Subject:  Re: Why is SignWriting Controversial?

SignWriting List
January 29, 2000

Dear SW List members:

Back on October 28, 1999, Steve Parkhurst wrote a great message about
SignWriting literacy in Spain. It was in response to a previous
message I had posted about "Why is SignWriting controversial?". You
can read these two messages in their entirety in the SignWriting List

SignWriting List Archive

The message numbers are:

Message 2028: Why is SignWriting Controversial? (Val's original message)
Message 2166: Steve Parkhurst's response about Spain

The Archives are really valuable as a resource. It has a wonderful
search engine. You can type in the word "controversial" and search,
and you will find all the SW List messages with the word
"controversial" in their title. You can also search by author or it is a good information resource if you are researching

Now...I have been meaning to respond to Steve's great message from
way back then! It is now the end of January...but three months late
is better than never ;-)

Steve Parkhurst wrote:
>I'm not a good judge of American Deaf culture, but here is Spain perhaps
>things are a bit different. As we considered how to begin literacy in SW in
>Spain we saw that our best opportunity would be with Deaf adults, not
>children. Here are some of the factors that lead us to that decision:
>1. There is a highly organized Deaf community. There is a National
>Confederation and about 8 Regional Federations and every medium-sized city
>has deaf associations.

And Steve continues...and then concludes with this paragraph:

>So, here in Spain, it seems that values in the Deaf community are passed
>down from one generation to the next through Deaf adults in the Deaf
>associations. Given this information, our training and contacts, it made
>more sense for us to start with the adult Deaf community rather than with
>children and schools.

>Steve and Dianne Parkhurst

Thanks, Steve, for this great message...I had been meaning to tell
you that for a long time! And I too wanted to make one comment....

I know it probably looks like we only work with deaf children here in
the USA, because the specific project called "The SignWriting
Literacy Project", which started in 1998, is a project where I donate
materials to schools with Deaf children. That project has gotten a
lot of publicity lately, because I want schools to know that the
offer of donated materials is available to them.

So "The SignWriting Literacy Project" is a specific project connected
with my "donating materials in return for teacher feedback" it
is not "SignWriting" in general is just one project within the
entire SignWriting organization.

Meanwhile, we actually did exactly what you are doing now in
Spain...we started working with Deaf adults, not Deaf children. We
have worked with Deaf adults since it has been 19
years..and for 16 of those years we never taught Deaf children...that
is something new...

As you know, Lucinda (Cindy) Batch was the first Deaf adult in the
USA to collaborate with me. Cindy and I met and began working with
each other at the end of 1981. Later Cindy and I formed the Deaf
Action Committee (the DAC). And the very purpose of the DAC was to
work with Deaf adults, which we did for years. It is only in the past
three years that things changed for several reasons...

1. Most of our DAC Deaf staff members are busy raising young
children, and so there has been a waiting period for everyone to have
time to work with SignWriting again.

2. I also was quite isolated because of illness in the past few
years, plus orders for books started to increase without the funds to
print in quantities, so that I became so busy I didn't have as much
time to work with others.

3. All of our funds in recent years have gone to donating the
materials to the schools, or to paying our computer programmers on
SignWriter 5.0, so working with the Deaf Community has been put on
hold...but that will change this year...I am determined to start
working with my Deaf co-workers in the year 2000 - I miss them! And I
need their input and support too..

So I just wanted to express that I think it is wonderful that you
have chosen to teach the Deaf Community in Spain - that is the very
best thing you could do! And if the Deaf adults can in turn influence
the school system in Spain - that is an excellent route to go...

And thank you for your textbooks on SignWriting, which were published
in Spain in 1999 - they are impressive indeed!

Please send our best to all of the wonderful Deaf adults you are
working with ;-))

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting


Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

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