Breaking New Ground in Deaf Education

The SignWriting Literacy Project is breaking new ground to address this problem. Preliminary results show that the "key" to reaching born-deaf children is to provide them with a way to read and write their native signed language. Show a deaf child a written word, and they look at you puzzled...


This word is composed of abstract symbols that represent sounds deaf children have never heard. What could it possibly mean? It has no visual connection with the sign for "house".

Hearing children already know this word because they have heard English all their lives. They learn to "sound out" the letters: ...h o u s e ....a word they already know how to speak.

Deaf children have trouble sounding out letters, since they can't hear. They must "memorize" that those "funny symbols" represent the "concept of house".

But everything changes when you show them SignWriting! Suddenly they are reading...


First, show them these basic handshapes:



Second, show them this: