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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Thu Mar 16, 2000  4:43 am
Subject:  Re: SignWriting as a gateway?

On 3/4/00, INGRID FOGGITT wrote:
>I realised that there must be something very important in this!
>Those kids who find writing English virtually impossible might be
>able to rather write in SignWriting??? Exams, tests, worksheets,
>etc in SignWriting as a percentage of the whole exam? This is a
>very interesting insight. One boy, Glen, who is functionally
>illiterate (he missed YEARS of schooling) has already taken to
>jotting down SignWriting in his other subjects: maths, biology,
>english, etc. The present lack of having a book that serves as a
>`dictionary' to what ALL the symbols in SW mean (e.g. the big black
>dot, the 'number' symbol #, etc) has not deterred Glen at all -- he
>has independently worked his way around this by attaching his OWN
>meanings to symbols. I have not encouraged this otherwise he might
>end up with his own SW system that no one else understands.
>HOwever, for now it is working for him and I told him that when we
>receive more SW materials, we will work on substituting his own SW
>symbols with the more `universal' ones. Hope that this is the
>right thing to do?


SignWriting List
March 15, 2000

Finally I am getting to read some of these older messages. I posted
all of Ingrid's messages on her new web pages...

SignWriting in South Africa

....before I had really had the chance to study what Ingrid said
myself! And now Ingrid has sent us some GLORIOUS photos of her Deaf
students writing SignWriting all over blackboards - it was enough to
give me goosebumps when I first saw them!

So I hope all the teachers will send me photos so I can add them to
your web pages in time...

But in regards to your question, Ingrid, about letting your students
who love and need SignWriting to write as best they can...even if the
symbols are wrong etc....Yes...I agree with you...encourage them and
let them go right ahead...I would not worry about that at all...

I say that with all confidence...I have found that people want to
communicate so much, that when they find the right way to write
something later, then they switch to that correct writing because
they know others will be able to read it too. When there is a need,
people find the way. SignWriting definitely opens literacy to some
Deaf people, and it would be a crying shame to hold them back now,
when they finally have a tool they can use.

So just believe in the higher intelligence of your students - they
will adjust and learn through experience. Remember that just a few
weeks ago, they had no SignWriting at something is better
than nothing...

For those students who are clearly benefitting from SignWriting, I
would suggest that you teach them to use the SignWriter Computer
Program - even young Deaf children in poverty-stricken Nicaragua are
learning to type by computer and enjoy it and learn from it. And the
dictionary in the computer program is the same dictionary we have in
book-form - so you have an ASL dictionary right now in the
computer...why not print it out for the students?

Then they can take red pens and change all the signs to make them
more "South African", and then they can sit at the computer and
fiddle with the software until they figure out how to re-type them!

Great way to learn - fiddling with software....

Val ;-)


Valerie Sutton



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