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Silent News, November 1999
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Younger Children's Ability To Read SW:
"Two of the younger students (5 & 8 yrs) took to these SW symbols (on flash cards) rather quickly. We were matching the (SW) sign vocabulary with some pictures and illustrations of events that might evoke some of those feelings. "The two students seem to recognize the symbols as a whole and 'read' these signs quickly: SCARED, EXCITED, SAD, HAPPY. The others (older ones) in the group took the lead of the early SW 'readers', and continued with the activity signing what their peers saw on the flash cards. "Even (when I) was ready to move onto another activity with the other three students, the two students wanted to continue the activity on their own, sorting out the SW flash cards that was piled between them matching them with the illustrations provided." Flood and her students continued discussing, creating and sorting out SignWriting symbols.

Middle-School Students' Reactions
"The middle school students initially were more skeptical when I showed some samples of SW to them. I did get some comments like; 'That's weird!', 'But that's hard to learn', 'Why should I learn Sign Writing? I already know and have a lot of experience using ASL'! and 'I don't want to learn that stuff, it's too hard'. "I didn't stop there....though I was tempted. I introduced some of those very same skeptics to the SignWriter, the sign language word processor program. They were more interested then and took to using the computer to generate individual signs, then strings of signs, then whole signed comments.

Chaparral Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Classroom teacher Lorraine Crespin assists Deaf student Monica,
who is learning to type with the SignWriter Computer Program.
Notice the SignWriting chart on the wall.

"Typical of young adolescents, their comments focusd on what they had done
with friends over the weekend, their boyfriends, school special events. The students pecked away at the computer keyboard with confidence and satisfaction....." Prior to using the SignWriter, I don't think these students paid much attention to how they were signing. Watching two 8th graders at the library computers discussing the palm orientation of a sign not in the dictionary, negotiating.....was evidence enough for me to pursue the formal initiation of an ethnographic research project. This project will document the experiences of deaf and hard of hearing students, ages 5- 14, (yes and even the skeptics among them) learning how to write using SignWriting, a way to read and write signs.

What The Future May Hold:
Flood predicted, based on her observations and current research: "Using a yet-to-be-tapped resource, signwriting, deaf and hard of hearing students will not only become better signers, but also better readers and writers, plus they will attain membership in the growing club of bilingual readers and writers in the U.S.A."

Teachers can write or call for a free packet of information on SignWriting:

The SignWriting Literacy Project
The DAC, Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting
P.O. Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA


SignWriting Web Site:

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Silent News
133 Gaither Drive, Suite E
Mount Laurel, New Jersey, 08054

Alexandra Han
Silent News Columnist

...related articles....

SignWriting In The USA
Literacy Projects in American Schools

The Albuquerque Public Schools
SignWriting Literacy Project
Letters & Web Reports, Mona Sherrell & Cecilia Flood

Classroom Experiences Teaching SignWriting
in the Albuquerque Public Schools
Excerpts from email messages by Cecilia Flood


Research Project
Albuquerque Public Schools Research Project
Assessing Deaf Children Learning SignWriting

...Cecilia Flood 1999 & continuing...
University of New Mexico Linguistics Department


...other Silent News articles...

Controversial Approach to Communication: SignWriting, The "Alphabet" of Signs Alexandra Han....
Silent News, March 1999