History of SignWriting


Chapter 5
SignWriting Publications
Published in the USA
1981 - 1989

Spring, 1981
SignWriting For EveryDay Use
This was the main reference textbook for serious students of SignWriting during the 1980's. Author: Valerie Sutton. Illustrations by Jayne Gunderson, Amy Blake and Ken Merchant. 450 pages. Spiral bind. Out-of-date. No longer in print. This book was replaced by a new textbook, called Lessons In SignWriting.




Spring, 1981
First SignWriting Literature Series
This literature was "experimental" since there had never been a way to read and write American Sign Language before. Over the years, writers became more skilled at recording ASL properly. There is now a Second Literature Serieswritten in ASL.

This first Literature Series, back in 1981, was written in Signed English or PSE. It included 7 booklets:

1. How's That Again? by Paul Menkis

Sign Language Poem Written In SignWriting

2. Pledge of Allegiance
Written In SignWriting by Margaret Oliver

3. A Poem For Deaf People by Tina Samper
Sign Language Poem Written In SignWriting

4. Ecclesiastis
Passage from the Bible Written In SignWriting

5. Silent Night
Sign Language Song Written In SignWriting

6. Goldilocks & the Three Bears, Second Edition
Written in SignWriting by Nancy Ellen Woo (now Nancy Romero).
Other versions: First Edition by Betty Beekman at National Theater of the Deaf.
The new Third Edition by Darline Clark, written in ASL in 1997, is now available.

7. Cinderella, First Edition
Written In SignWriting by Nancy Ellen Woo (now Nancy Romero). This was published in the "SignWriting For Everyday Use" textbook, as well as in a separate booklet. Illustrations by Jayne Gunderson. No longer in print.

A Second Edition of Cinderella, written by Darline Clark in ASL in 1997, will be available soon.


Summer, 1981
What Is SignWriting?
Four-page visual description of SignWriting's uses. Cartoons by Frank Allen Paul


Fall, 1981
"SignWriting Tote Bags
Strong canvas, blue ink on white. Two sizes. Design is out-of-date. No longer available.


Fall, 1981 First Issue
SignWriter Newspaper
First newspaper written in Sign Language by Nancy Ellen Woo, sent to 41 countries.




1982 First Edition - 1993 Fourth Edition
NTID Technical Signs Manual Two: Reading Technical Sign Diagrams
by Valerie Sutton and the NTID team under the direction of Dr. Frank Caccamise. Manual Two teaches the SignWriting symbols used in the Technical Signs manuals.



1982 First Edition
NTID Technical Signs Manual Three: Mathematics
by the NTID team under the direction of Dr. Frank Caccamise. Manual Three teaches signs used in Mathematics. SignWriting symbols are used in the illustrations.



1982 First Edition
NTID Technical Signs Manual Four: Communications
by the NTID team under the direction of Dr. Frank Caccamise. Manual Four teaches signs used in Communications. SignWriting symbols are used in the illustrations.

1982
SignWriting For Research Use
Tesxtbook by Valerie Sutton teaching the way SignWriting first developed at the University of Copenhagen in the 1970's. The writing is "very detailed", geared to researchers. Actually, SignWriting has improved so much since then, that today's writing is just as detailed without all of the complication.




1982
SignWriting Shorthand For Sign Language Stenography
Textbook by Valerie Sutton teaching Shorthand. At that time, a new profession called "Sign Language Stenography" was "under development". Experiments were made with recording signs at speed in classrooms. Stenographers learned how to write without looking at their hands. This book taught that system. Since then, the Shorthand has been adapted for use as a daily handwriting for everyone.




1982
SignWriting Basic Teacher's Certification Manual
This was a training manual for educators to become qualified SignWriting Instructors.
From 1981-1984, teachers received certificates after completing training. There were 31 instructors who received certification in the 1980's. The Teacher Certification Program ceased in 1984.



1983 First Edition
NTID Technical Signs Manual Five: Career Education
by Brenda Liebman Aron and the NTID team under the direction of Dr. Frank Caccamise. Manual Five teaches signs used in Career Education. SignWriting symbols are used in the illustrations.


1983
Sutton's Sign-Symbol-Sequence
This was the first publication describing and teaching Sutton's system for looking up signs by SignWriting symbols in Sign Language dictionaries.





1983
SignWriting Card File Dictionary
ASL Dictionary on 3" by 5" cards. New cards were sent to members monthly. This forced students to learn how to put the signs in Sign-Symbol-Sequence.

1983-1984
SignWriting Bilingual Dictionary Project
The Danish Sign Language-American Sign Language, American Sign Language-Danish Sign Language Dictionary

written in SignWriting. If this dictionary had been completed, it would truly have been historic. There was no spoken language in the dictionary. Everything was written in two languages, Danish Sign Language and American Sign Language, including the foreword and introduction.

The work was compiled by Karen Albertsen, Annegrethe Pedersen and others at the Deaf Center For Total Communication in Copenhagen, Denmark, collaborating with Valerie Sutton and her team in the USA. The work was halted when it became apparent that a typing program for SignWriting was greatly needed. Writing the whole dictionary by hand with ink pens and transfer sheets became too much work.

The SignWriter Computer Program could easily type the dictionary now, and someday, with funding, the DAC hopes to start the bilingual dictionary project again.




April, 1984
"SignWriting Updates"
Document reporting Deaf Americans skilled SignWriting request to write from the "Expressive Viewpoint".

Spring-Summer, 1984, Final Issue
SignWriter Newspaper
Featured an article by Bernard Bragg.




1985
NTID Technical Signs Manual Six: English
by the NTID team under the direction of Dr. Frank Caccamise. Manual Six teaches signs used in teaching English. SignWriting symbols are used in the illustrations.



1985
NTID Technical Signs Manual Seven: Religion
by the NTID team under the direction of Dr. Frank Caccamise. Manual Seven teaches signs used in Religion. SignWriting symbols are used in the illustrations.



August, 1985
Learn Signing With SignWriting Video & Booklet
Bernard Bragg and Valerie Sutton teach SignWriting to hearing people who want to learn basic signs. Also included Patty Duke, William Schallert, Meredith McRae and Stephanie Edwards.




Spring 1986
Four Ways Of Writing SignWriting
by Valerie Sutton. Detailed SignWriting, SignWriting Printing, Handwriting, & Shorthand.



1987
NTID Technical Signs Manual Eight: Theater
by Keith Cagle and the NTID team under the direction of Dr. Frank Caccamise. Manual Eight teaches signs used in Theater. SignWriting symbols are used in the illustrations.


Fall, 1987
Computers In Sign Language Education
Paper by Richard Gleaves and Karen van Hoek, discussing the use of the SignWriter Computer Program for teaching language to Deaf people.



February, 1988
SignWriter // Computer Program
For The Apple //e and //c computers. This was an historic little program, because it was the first time in history that SignWriting could be typed. It was a true "word processor" for signs, including automatic word wrap, Find and Replace, and other features. Considering the small amount of memory used in those days, it typed signs surprisingly well. This can be attributed to the excellent and clean design by programmer Richard Gleaves. The keyboard design and packaging design was by Valerie Sutton. Richard Gleaves wrote the Reference Manual that came with the program, which was packaged in a royal blue folder with disks and keyboard cards. This was the forerunner to the SignWriter Computer Program used today.



May, 1988
SignBank I Desk Accessory for the Macintosh for "Word-Sign" Dictionaries
programmed by Michael Ogawa, this Desk Accessory, which is a small "mini" program on the Macintosh, inlcuded a wonderful storage system for signs in a dictionary, plus specially designed SignWriting Fonts, designed by Valerie Sutton. SignBank I created "word-sign" dictionaries. However, it was not a true typing program like the SignWriter Computer Program. In SignBank, the fonts did not rotate or flop the symbols. To use the fonts, you had to type a symbol in a Paint Program and then change it manually, dot by dot, and then copy the whole sign and paste it into the SignBank dictionary. Once it was pasted in, then you could print the dictionary which looked quite nice. But SignWriter, the "sign processor" ended up being used more, because the symbols are manipulated for you. And SignWriter has the same, if not better, dictionary capabilities.



November, 1988
SignBank II Desk Accessory for the Macintosh for "Sign-Word" Dictionaries
programmed by Michael Ogawa, designed by Valerie Sutton. This was an "experiment" to see how the computer could "look-up" signs by the Sign-Symbol-Sequence, instead of looking signs up by English words. The user had to know what they were doing. Each symbol category was represented in a box. Before the sign was pasted into the dictionary, the user had to "establish" what sequence of symbols he wanted to use, when looking the sign up in the dictionary. He would click on the symbols in the boxes, to establish the "Sequence" and then paste the sign into the dictionary. SignBank II would then print the dictionary in Sign-Symbol-Sequence. This was an important program, since it help everyone think through different issues. The new version of the SignWriter Computer Program, version 5.0, which is in progress, will include a "Sign-Word" dictionary, and that new program will be based on what was learned from SignBank II.



1988
NTID Technical Signs Manual Nine: Social Work
by the NTID team under the direction of Dr. Frank Caccamise. Manual Nine teaches signs used in Social Work. SignWriting symbols are used in the illustrations.



Spring, 1989
SignWriter PC Computer Program, version 1.0
For The IBM PC & Compatibles. Designed and programmed by Richard Gleaves, with contributions on the progamming of international keyboards by Barry Demchak at Torrey Pines Software. This program was transported from the older SignWriter // for the Apple //e and //c. It was then improved on the IBM PC. More symbols, a Dictionary Manager program, laser printing, and many more new features were added. It is the forerunner to the SignWriter Computer Program, version 4.3, which is in use today.



Spring, 1989, First Issue
SignWriter Newsletter Begins
Written by members of the Deaf Action Committee. Mailed to 7000 people.


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