...SignWriting in Nicaragua Directory...


January-April, 1999

Email Messages & Reports
about "Escuelita de Condega"

...taken from the SignWriting List Archives...


March, 1999, in Bluefields, Nicaragua. Teacher Mabel, left, demonstrates signs
written in SignWriting with student Tomasina, right. Tomasina comes from a city near Condega, the area that was devastated by Hurricane Mitch.

Email Messages
September, 1998

 Email Messages
October, 1998

Email Messages
Nov-Dec, 1998

Email Messages
Escuelita de Condega

Email Messages About Escuelita de Condega

SW Report About Nicaragua
By Valerie Sutton

Posted to the SignWriting List
January 9, 1999
I have some news to report about SignWriting in Nicaragua...
I received a telephone call from James Shepard-Kegl last week. I was so excited to hear from James, because we have missed his energetic postings to the SignWriting List lately, and I was wondering how they were doing with the terrible floods in Nicaragua. For those new to the List, James and Judy Shepard Kegl are Americans who founded a school for Deaf children in Bluefields, Nicaragua, which is on the eastern coast of the country, a very poverty-stricken area.
They have used SignWriting in the Bluefields school for several years now, and Deaf children are becoming fluent in reading and writing Nicaraguan signs. They continue to develop more written literature in Nicaraugan Sign Language. They are translating Moby Dick right now (can you believe)! And some students are becoming skilled at typing with SignWriter 4.3 too.

Meanwhile...you may remember the terrible floods that occurred in western Nicaragua and Honduras in 1998? Many people died, and James and Judy collected funds and then James flew to a western Nicaraguan city, a small rural town near Honduras, and he gathered deaf people together there...and guess what?! They founded a second school for the deaf! This was in November, 1998. And, they started teaching them SignWriting immediately...and James told me on the phone that the new deaf students learned it quickly and love it. They are already reading because of the enthusiasm from the other students.
In summary, this is what has happened since October...James flew to flood ravaged Nicaragua and went up in the hills to find deaf people...they established a new school there....they started teaching them signs and SignWriting immediately...they flew some of those deaf students to Bluefields on the other side of the country so that the new deaf students could attend class with the students in Bluefields...they started their winter schedule of classes in Bluefields on schedule, even with all this confusion...and on top of all that...back in the USA, James and Judy moved their residence of many years in New Jersey, up to snowy cold Maine, where they now will be working with the Deaf Community there, whenever they are not in Nicaragua!

From floods to snow...gosh ...what amazing people :-)
So when James returns from the winter semester of school in Bluefields in a few months, we will hear from him on the SignWriting List again. I am looking forward to what he has to say about the new students learning SignWriting.
James and I only had a ten minute conversation on the phone. I sat in silence after we hung up, thinking of the miracle - that SignWriting was being used in the hills of Nicaragua...
You can read more on the web:
SignWriting In Nicaragua
There is also a linguistic research study, posted in its entirety on the web:  

Literacy In Nicaraguan Sign Language

Valerie Sutton

Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 10:53:11 -0500
Sender: SignWriting List <SW-L@ADMIN.HUMBERC.ON.CA>
From: "James Kegl" <nslp@maine.rr.com>

I just returned from two months in Bluefields, Nicaragua where I worked at
Escuelita de Bluefields -- the school for about 30 Deaf students operated by
Nicaraguan Sign Language Projects, Inc. For those of you who may not know,
all classes are taught by Deaf teachers fluent in Nicaraguan Sign Language,
the indigenous sign language. SignWriting is a major component of the

One of the uses of SW that I find particularly helpful is grammar analysis.
For example, working with one of the teachers last fall, NSLP produced a SW
version of Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic. In January, we
worked through the grammar with the class by writing some of the sentences
on the blackboard, then breaking down the words into their grammatical
components. We also looked at the word order in order to discuss the rules
of syntax in Nicaraguan Sign Language. Next, each student discussed how he
or she would rewrite the sentence for better clarity or richer grammar.
This proved an excellent thought provoking exercise.

Someday, we will spend more time teaching Spanish (reading and writing, but
absolutely no lipreading or speaking -- won't spend a second on that.) Nor
will we cut back on class time for spanish. Rather, we plan to extend the
school day to incorporate Spanish in the curriculum. I submit that by
teaching sign language grammar and literacy skills through SW, the students
will have a superior understanding of grammar and syntax concepts when we
begin to teach literacy skills in a second language.

Last fall, Valerie graciously allowed me to share with all of you on this
mailing list our plans to address some of the needs of Deaf Nicaraguans in
the area affected by Hurricane Mitch. Just to update everyone, we are
actively training Deaf adults to be teachers in the new school we are
setting up in Condega (in the center of the flood area). We ran a sign
language workshop in Condega for ten days in December. The first intensive
session, using three Deaf teachers from the Bluefields school, starts April
7 and will run two months. We were asked to take 70 children, but that
would swamp us, so we reduced the initial enrollment to 30. SW, of course,
will be a part of the curriculum, although at this stage we are more
interested in bringing Nicaraguan Sign Language to these children. Fluency
first, reading and writing afterwards. Many of our storybooks have been
translated into SW (Babar, Taily-Po, Little Engine that Could, Anansi the
Spider, Trojan Horse, Odysseus and the Cyclops, Odysseus and Circe, etc.)

-- James Shepard-Kegl

...two schools for the Deaf in Nicaragua...

Escuelita de Bluefields
Escuelita de Condega

...were founded by...
...and are coordinated by...

Nicaraguan Sign Language Projects, Inc.
James Shepard-Kegl, Coordinator
52 Whitney Farms Road
North Yarmouth, Maine, 04097, USA
(207) 846-8801 voice or tty
(207) 846-8688 fax
Email: kegl@maine.rr.com

...SignWriting in Nicaragua Directory...