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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Mon Jan 18, 1999  8:40 pm
Subject:  Sorting by SW Symbols

>Regarding the new SW program. I hope that it includes a way for a deaf
>person to sort through the dictionary without needing to know English.
>Perhaps the sorts could be based on any feature of a particular sign:
>like dynamic symbols, or contact symbols, etc., not on English. That way
>a person could look up the meaning of a word and other types of research.
>Ronald Dettloff, Pastor

January 18, 1999

Hello Ron -
Thanks for this question. Yes...the ultimate plan for SignWriter 5.0 is to
have two-way dictionaries. When we look up signs by SignWriting symbols, it
is called "Sutton's Sign-Symbol-Sequence". I have been working on the
internal code inside the computer program to create the best Sequence
possible, based on the 14 signed languages we can type at the moment. I
know that after the Sequence is used for awhile, we will want to make
changes to improve the Sequence. We cannot foresee the problems of looking
up by Sequence, until it is used by hundreds of people in 14 countries.

When Steve and Dianne Parkhurst were here from Spain, they showed me that
they were able to hone down the symbol set just for Spanish Sign Language,
and of course there were fewer symbols needed than we need for all 14
signed languages. So the Sequence can be honed to fit one language
too...and that will be a wonderful challenge later :-)

Right now, you can find a small number of ASL signs sorted by
Sign-Symbol-Sequence, on our web site:

ASL/English Picture Dictionary

And yes - the true Sequence does look up by movement symbols and dynamic
symbols as well - It looks up by every symbol in the entire SignWriting
system. And it looks up by placement of those symbols, such as height of
symbols, and depth of symbols - it is quite sophisticated.

But what matters to the user in the long run, is that they can scan down
the list of signs in the dictionary and find the sign they need
immediately. And it should be so easy, that Deaf children can look up signs
by Sign-Symbol-Sequence. So far I understand people have not had trouble
learning to do this, but on the other hand, we do not have enough
experience to know.

And three last points...

First, I am writing a special little book entitled "Sutton's
Sign-Symbol-Sequence". The booklet list the entire Sequence, and gives
techniques on how to find a sign quickly by Sequence.

Second - SignWriter 5.0 already has a feature where the user can go under
Preferences and choose:

Menus in Words
Menus in Signs
Menus in Words & Signs

and they will be able to choose a country, and if someone in their country
has already sent me the signs for the menus in their signed language, then
I will enter them, and then the menus will be available in the signed
language of that country. So Deaf people who do not know a spoken language
will be able to have the entire screen, including instructions, written in
SignWriting. At the moment I have already gotten the Menus in ASL Signs,
but SignWriter 5.0 is not finished or ready yet, so at the moment we are
working on other things. Later I will make a call for other countries to
send me their signs, so we can create their Menus.

Third - I know that your question, Ron, is also asking for fancy features
for sorting, necessary for linguistic analysis etc and of course I want
those as badly as you and everyone! I have placed your request on my "New
Feature List" for SignWriter 5.0 :-)

If some of you would like to speed up the development of SignWriter 5.0, I
would be most grateful for your help with raising the funds to pay
programmers to go faster. I know it must be confusing for all of you
because we have accomplished so much and it seems like we are a big
organization, but actually we are a small oranization with big dreams!!

I am professional at writing grants, but I need people to help because I am
overloaded. But no matter what, SignWriter 5.0 will happen sooner or later!

Larry Peranich, our programmer, is only working around 5 hours a week, and
I need several full-time programmers to finish SignWriter 5.0, but I do not
have the funds to pay anyone full time - so if you guys can think of
something - please tell me!

At the moment, I am working on the Sequence ID numbers in SignWriter 5.0,
and Larry is working on developing typing down the page. We are doing some
unique things, and it is really kind of an adventure!

I am off to mail the proxies for the meeting!

Valerie :-)

Valerie Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee for SW


Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

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