Supporting Deaf Sign Languages
in Written Form on the Web


António Carlos da Rocha Costa

Graçaliz Pereira Dimuro


The SignWriting system (developed at the Center for Sutton Movement Writing, Ca., USA), is a writing system for deaf sign languages. In SignWriting, signs are represented as figures made up of graphic symbols, each symbol schematically representing an important aspect of the sign gestures: hand configurations, hand and finger movements, contacts, facial expressions, etc. SWML (SignWriting Markup Language) is an XML-based format that we are developing for the storage and processing of SignWriting texts and dictionaries, allowing the interoperability of SignWriting savvy applications and promoting web accessibility to deaf people in their own natural languages. SSS.svg is a standard representation of the whole SignWriting symbol sequence as SVG symbols, allowing the flexible rendering of signs written in SignWriting as graphical elements in web pages. This paper initially presents the SignWriting system and its importance as a deaf sign language writing system and considers why supporting written sign languages on the web should be considered both as an accessibility issue and as a problem of multiculturalism and multi-linguality in the web. Then, the paper reports on the state of the work being done on the development of SWML (current status: version 1.0 - draft 2) and states preliminary ideas for the organization and searching of sign language text database. Finally, the paper shows the prospects for and the current status of the development of a SignWriting-based web application (SW-WebMail) using SWML and SSS.svg to render sign languages.




Dr. Antônio Carlos da Rocha Costa
Centro de Ciências Computacionais
Prog. Pós-grad. Modelagem Computacional
Universidade Federal do Rio Grande
96.201-900 Rio Grande, RS, Brasil.


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