|SignWriting List Forum|
Mark Penner |
Date: Mon Sep 14, 1998 1:45 am
Subject: I visited DAC headquarters this summer
Here's a short report of my impressions that I wrote this summer after
visiting DAC. Now that I'm back in Japan, back on e-mail, and back on the
SW list, I thought I'd pass it on to the list for what its worth.
In just 9 hours at the DAC office with Valerie my head was reeling. It's
been a couple of days since then, I've managed to sort out some of what I
picked up there.
1)Valerie Sutton = Intensity. Power. Conviction. Commitment. A deep zest
for life. She is simply an amazing person. Whatever it takes to make
SignWriting work, or, I should say, work better (it already works very
well!), she will do.
2) She is surrounded by a great group of supporters. One by one, top Deaf
and hearing SL researchers are coming to see the value of the movement
writing system she invented.
3) I could have spent the whole time just on her web site and still not
have seen it all--what a resource!
4) I'm praying for an early release of SignWriter 5.0. I got to see it, and
it is so much easier to learn and use (though I did manage to write a
sentence in the DOS-based SignWriter, and I know I could learn that
too--its just harder after you've gotten used to Windows-style working).
5) The philosophy behind the system is solid. Movement Writing records any
kind of movement, and has been used for everything from dance to karate to
medical assessments. But SignWriting is far more that just a record of
movement. Valerie recognized Sign Language (Danish SL first, and later
ASL) right away as a true language, and from the beginning of her
SignWriting development, worked with the Deaf community to make it useful
for them. She and her Deaf teammates at DAC have spent years determining
what movement information is necessary to record and what is extraneous.
6) She is sensitive to the issue of natural usage. When I saw my first
page of SignWriting in columns, my eye instinctively went to the right side
of the page. Japanese, Chinese--any top-down writing I've ever read is read
this way. She picked up on that right away. "I'll have to get the
programmers to add a right-to-left option" To my protest that we could
learn easily enough to read it the other way, she said "We have Arabic
SignWriters too." Whatever it takes!
7) I picked up a little bit of helpful information on how to teach
SignWriting. It won't help me much if there's no one who can read the
Japanese Sign Language I write or write to me to help me learn to read. :-)
I'm part of a team of people (mostly Deaf) working to translate the Bible
into Japanese Sign Language on video. Written Japanese just doesn't cut it
for recording translation decisions, and it is awkward for cueing the
signers as they sign in front of the camera. SignWriting seems like a great
way to solve these problems. Who knows? Maybe someday we'll have a printed
SignWriting version of the JSL Bible
I rode with him
in a taxi once
Only for a mile and a half
seemed like it took a couple of months.
Bob Dylan, _Lenny Bruce_