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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Wed Nov 8, 2000  6:43 pm
Subject:  REQUEST: Please tell us about SW history....

SignWriting List
November 8, 2000

Dear SW List-
Back on October 13th, I received this question from one of our List
members in Brazil:


>>>>...Here in Brazil deaf people are so curious about all the SW
>>>>history and I've done a summary to put in our booklet (revision
>>>>aid). Please tell me if it's right: "You were a dancer (ballet?)
>>>>and invented a way to write on paper dancing movements (there was
>>>>no system before yours ? what has inspired you to do that?), then
>>>>an article about Dance Writing was published in a newspaper from
>>>>Dinamark where researcher were trying to register the signs on
>>>>paper. They saw it and invited you to go there help them with the
>>>>project. You passed about 3 months watching videos in Danish sign
>>>>language, even not understanding a sign, and codified the basis
>>>>for SW. Then back to USA you went on in touch with deaf people
>>>>(how? did you looked for a deaf association?) who helped you to
>>>>develop SW. " <<<<<


Oi Brazil!

Please forgive my delay in responding to your question.

Your description above is well done..thank you for including the
history of SignWriting in your courses in Brazil ;-)

To answer your questions...

1. Yes. I was a ballet dancer

2. Yes. I invented a system called Sutton DanceWriting, which is a
dance notation system.

3. No. Sutton DanceWriting is not the only dance notation system in
history. It is one of hundreds of dance notation systems.
Labanotation and Benesh are two other famous dance notation
systems...but DanceWriting is easier than those other systems and is
read quickly by children and professional there is a
very big difference between the systems.

4. What inspired me? The other dance notation systems were too
difficult. They were not visual. You could not see the movement on
the page in a visual way. I needed a way to write dances on paper -
So I became inspired to develop a stick-figure-writing system.

5. Once SignWriting was invented, how did I start working with Deaf
poople in my own country?...Well, I moved back from Denmark to the
United States and I immediately contacted Deaf people and starting
working a little with them in 1975-1976....I was still teaching
DanceWriting at the Boston Conservatory of Music, but in 1977, I
started branching out doing more SignWriting, and in 1979 I became a
consultant on SignWriting at the National Technical Institute for the
Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, New York, and from that time on, I worked
full-time with SignWriting.

I hope some of these answers helped you - The history of SignWriting
is very large - a great deal happens monthly, and we have been
working since 1974 - so that is 25 years!

All my best -

Val ;-)


Valerie Sutton

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