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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Fri Sep 29, 2000  12:58 am
Subject:  Re: SignWriting at Gallaudet

At 11:38 PM +0000 9/28/00, joe martin wrote:
>I'm in Bob Johnson's Phonology class; a couple of weeks ago he gave
>a quick overview of sign notation systems. gave us a 1-page handout
>on SW, dated 1989, was very dismissive (and I thought highly
>defensive as well. I kept my mouth shut) He said he doesn't think it
>will catch on, and that he has never
>met anyone that can read it. Which was funny since MJ Bienvenue was sitting
>behind me, signing out the words to herself.....


SignWriting List
September 28, 2000

This paragraph is exceptionally interesting, since there is a real
history with both Bob Johnson and MJ, regarding SignWriting. No
reason to go into the intrigues of the 1980's, since the issues are
somewhat different now...but there were hot discussions when I taught
SignWriting briefly at Gallaudet in 1984...Charles Butler was in that
class - is that where we met, Charles?

I am only guessing, but I suspect that Bob Johnson will always be on
the defensive about SignWriting...that is OK. At least he does
include it in his handouts, and doesn't ignore it altogether...that
would be worse...

And MJ is a passionate Deaf person with a cause "fighting for Deaf
rights". Back in 1984, she thought perhaps I was the enemy, because I
was hearing and was not that fluent in signing at the time. But she
could read SignWriting so well, she found mistakes in our ASL
grammar! I pointed out to her that if our ASL grammar is bad, please
correct it, but at least she was reading SignWriting! I am not sure
if she understood the long years it has taken me to develop the
SignWriting symbols - since she was reading them automatically it may
be that she didn't understand that that ease in reading came from
years and years of hard work - and that I am truly the Deaf
Community's friend in the deepest sense...

So Joe...I can tell you are having a hard time. I am sorry to hear
that. Try not to let it worry you. Gallaudet has always been a bed of
intrigues...That is life in famous institutions all over the world -
the people who work there are at the top of their professions - and
some of them let it go to their egos....but you will be stronger for
it in the long run...this is your professional hazing time ;-)

If you have a chance, please send my very best wishes to MJ - Tell
her I remember meeting her in 1984 and that I respect her opinions....

Take good care of yourself, Joe - You are important to us!

Val ;-)


Valerie Sutton

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