SignWriting List
August 31, 2005

Modified October 9, 2010


SignSpelling Rule 1: Write the Position of Contact

It is important to write the two hands contacting each other. The entire spelling revolves around the Position of Contact like a small universe. The Position of Contact is the center of the sign, and the movement symbols and contact symbols relate to that center.

Position of Contact
Is the Center of the Sign
Sign is too spread out,
and the focus is missing.

The Position of Contact is very important because it holds the meaning in a sign. The eye focuses on the Position of Contact when reading. This was tested with a group of Deaf adults who were skilled in SignWriting (the DAC), and we found that when the Position of Contact was not written, readers had to piece the sign together slowly, but when the two hands were written close together in the contacted position, like a unit, the sign was read faster.

Writing the Position of Contact also creates smaller signs in width and height, which makes writing in vertical columns more centered and compact, making the columns themselves less wide.

Writing the Position of Contact, showing the hands close together in a unit, also eliminates the need for writing a single Touch Contact Star to show the two hands are touching each other. Since you can see the two hands are touching each other by their placement, the single Touch Contact Star is no longer as necessary. It is not wrong to write the single Touch Contact Star near the Position of Contact, but it is not necessary either. This simplifies the writing of signs.

Double Touch Contact Symbols, however, are written no matter what, because Double Touch, or Touch-Touch, is a movement, not a position. It is only single Touch Contact Stars that can be and are frequently eliminated because we write the Position of Contact.

Examples below:

Spelling Rule
Always Write the Position of Contact

Not Correct


Questions? Write to:

Valerie Sutton