forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Charles Butler
Date:  Fri Dec 18, 1998  4:44 am
Subject:  Re: Information

For a project, Sign Writing is certainly a good topic, as it will
enlighten the Deaf in your school as well.

I have been using sign writing to preserve and remember sign language
for about 25 years now (ever since I saw the first edition of the Sign
Writer newspaper) so all of us are in this together.

Valerie Sutton, the inventor of Sign Writing, is not well enough to
travel, so all of us who are on the web try to help out whenever we can.

The web site at is by far the best resource for current
information, as it refers you to projects all over the world, including
Brazil, Nicaragua, the UK, Denmark, Norway, and others as information
becomes available. The US has been slow in adopting this form of sign
language transcription but there are at least 8 different pilot projects
in the US.

I am an historian by avocation, so I have been studying medieval sign
language and working on transcribing some if it into Sign Writing so
that we can compare signs historically. Benedictine Monastery Sign
Language was taught all over Europe and is the base upon which Spanish
Sign Language and French Sign Language were created. British added
other signs and developed a two handed alphabet. Finally, of course,
Gallaudet came to this country with French Sign Language as a base and
with home signs and a great deal of work formed the foundation for
modern American Sign Language. Now, with Sutton Sign Writing (a subset
of Sutton Movement Writing) we can compare various signed languages with
each other quickly and easily.

It's not hard to learn, most of the Deaf who can be persuaded enough to
sit down with you, can learn the rudiments in about 15 minutes. What
other alphabet can transmit a language so quickly? The Deaf eyes light
up when they realize that they are reading their own language without
the intervention of English.

That should give you enough to start with. Write all of us more, we'll
be glad to help.

Charles Butler

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