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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Wed Apr 26, 2000  5:26 am
Subject:  Wonderful TV Program About Nicaragua ;-)

SignWriting List
April 25, 2000

Dear SignWriting List:

I just watched the "60 Minutes II" segment on television, that aired
nationally in the US. The 15 minute program was filmed in Nicaragua.
They interviewed Judy Shepard-Kegl, and several Deaf Nicaraguans too.
I thought it was an excellent program. Congratulations, Judy and was really great!

The signing was beautiful and dynamic. The children were wonderful. I
became emotional, watching the segment about the 25-year old mother
who was born-deaf, and because of her isolated circumstances, with no
schooling, she still had no language as an adult. She seemed very
intelligent though. There was something about her. There was a form
of "body language"...a tilt of the head back and eyegaze and some
cheek movement, that gave some important information. She knew she
had no language, but she also knows she is intelligent. She was
thinking deep thoughts, and she knew there was a barrier between her
thoughts and all those people crowded around her. And she was highly
skeptical that there was a way to break that least that
is what I felt from was almost as if she thought the
questions were a bit silly...and it was foolish for these "so-called
experts" to try....

It was also very moving at the end when Judy discussed what could
have happened to these children, if the children had never had a
school, or a chance to communicate with other Deaf people. Judy
discussed the isolation of deafness and how difficult it is....and
the love and caring that she felt for the children was evident.

I have never been to Nicaragua, but Judy and James and Darline
Clark-Gunsauls have all told me stories about it. It was wonderful to
really see living pictures of the children and to see some of their
living quarters and their classrooms. I can now "imagine" their
circumstances better, because of that TV show.

As you know, although SignWriting is used in the schools there, there
was no SignWriting on any blackboards in this film. In fact, if you
look at the blackboards carefully, it looks like there was
SignWriting written on the blackboards before the filming started,
and then it was erased on purpose...I suspect the visual distraction
was not what the camera men wanted for this short segment. That is
OK...because they placed the focus on Judy and the children, and that
is the way it should be.

Maybe someday we can encourage them to do a second show, a "sequel"
that focuses on SignWriting, which is another historic "first" the
Kegl's have accomplished in Nicaragua....I hope they will include an
interview with James, to discuss the long list of literature that has
been translated into Nicaraguan Sign Language and then typed in
SignWriting. And maybe interview some of the Deaf authors
too...several of whom type SignWriting by computer.

But that is for another day ;-)

Today, I want to wish Judy and James congratulations again. You
really have changed people's lives for the better....

Val ;-)

PS. My mother and sister called from Florida to tell me they both
watched the program and they thought it was excellent!

PPS. Thanks to CBS posting two links to the SignWritingSite on their
web page about the program, I have already received several email
messages from people wanting information. Thank you, CBS, for the

Here is the web page again:

CBS Web Page About Nicaragua,1597,188527-412,00.shtml

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