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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Sat Jul 1, 2000  5:48 am
Subject:  Deaf rights & freedom of expression ;-)

At 10:21 PM +0200 6/30/00, Stefan Woehrmann wrote:
>So asking these adults today for support they are as supportive as you can
>imagine - wonderfull people but confrontend with the idea that at Frankfurt,
>Aachen or Hamburg scientific research has done concerning the rules of DGS
>which they never had heard of before - they might feel insecure or shy -
>And I can understand them . Being told from their teachers before - if you
>would do better you would be able to lipread and articulate so much better .
>They got this feeling of defizit - of not doing good enough . And now people
>show up to tell them that there are rules in DGS they do violate just while
>they comunicate as they do --
>Itīs a sensitive matter and I donīt want to make anybody feel unhappy.

SignWriting List
June 30, 2000

My dear Stefan, and of course everyone on the SW List!

I swear that this is my last public message before July 1st - ha! It
is 10:46 pm on June 30th (grin). I must get to important work that
will influence all of our work in the Fall...

But then I become fascinated with the wonderful messages on the
SignWriting List. It is a powerful addiction to discuss so many
interesting ideas with such a dynamic group....

And thank you Stefan for your message about the Deaf Community. I
wasn't sure if the Deaf adults were actually learning SignWriting in
Osnabruck ...I think that is great, all the effort you are making -
what a huge task!

I have an unusual philosophy that may not be accepted in intellectual
circles, but it is my philosophy nonetheless. And SignWriting would
not exist without that philosophy....

I believe that there is no "wrong" or "right" when it comes to
freedom of expression.

And SignWriting was built to be a vehicle for "freedom of expression".

I believe in Deaf rights. And SignWriting supports Deaf rights, by
giving Deaf people the power of expressing themselves directly in
their own language.

Many Deaf adults have never been given that kind of freedom
before...With SignWriting, they can write what they feel, without
thinking in any spoken language, without any spelling rules, without
any grammar rules - just writing Deaf poetry and Deaf jokes and Deaf
stories...just the way they sign it...without any hearing person
standing in judgement of them...

So it is the freedom of expression that Deaf adults will cherish.
Show them the SignWriting symbols and say "Here. Write how you sign.
Express your soul. Forget the rules...just write for the beauty of

And then a miracle will happen...Through writing, their grammer will
improve without them knowing it. And their Deaf writing will be
studied by linguists who will learn from them. So giving the Deaf
adults freedom to be creative without rules, will actually help the
linguists establish writing rules later...

I know that in countries where researchers study their signed
languages, there are always some people who act as "good Sign
Language police", informing others that they sign "incorrectly".

Back in the mid 1980's, our wonderful Deaf DAC staff members (10
native ASL signers) were criticised for not writing "good ASL". At
first we were all hurt and worried. It even stopped us from writing
for awhile - it was destructive.

Of course I admire good research, and am always interested in their
findings, but no one knows enough about the grammer and writing of
signed languages yet, to stand in judgement of anyone else.

So, it is my belief, that no matter what excellent research is
published in Germany about DGS, that has little to do with an
important historic event - namely that Deaf adults can start writing
the way they sign, without any restrictions.

So try the "freedom of expression" may find it has magic!

Good July everyone!

Val ;-)


Valerie Sutton


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