Channel 10 News, San Diego
2008 by 10News.com. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
DIEGO -- Imagine a language that can't be written.
Until recently, that was the case for American Sign
Language. But a San Diegan has revolutionized the
way deaf people read.
Most of us have seen it. Deaf people have used sign
language for centuries. But what you probably haven't
seen is books written in sign language.
While some deaf people excel in reading and writing,
others need a little help. Valerie Sutton of La
Jolla has created a system of graphic symbols, called
Signwriting. It allows signs to be captured on paper.
"I developed some symbols that make it possible
-- like a script -- to write what we see when somebody
For example, those who can hear recognize the word
house; those who are deaf recognize the symbol for
For children born deaf or who become deaf early
in life, sign language is their first language.
English comes next, making it easier to read and
write in Signwriting.
"It's simply because they don't know English
because they weren't brought up with it because
they couldn't hear it," Sutton said.
This year Sutton has lofty goals. She is unveiling
Signwriting in school texts, reference books, religious
works and classical world literature. In fact, several
parts of the Bible are now available in American
American Sign Language interpreter Nancy Romero
said, "There are people that are reading scripture
for the first time because it is in their native
language of ASL, and that's awesome."
Signwriting is used in over 40 countries and Sutton
is working on a way for deaf people to write in
sign language online.