Home » Accessibility » What is SignWriting?

What is SignWriting?

Purple background. On left the illustration of a hand signaling the letter D in Libras (Brazilian Sign Language). On the right, the letter D in SignWriting.

It is a sign writing system, which can record any sign language in the world without the need for oral language translation and was created by Valerie Sutton in 1974, sparking interest from Danish Sign Language researchers, who were looking for a way to “write” signs.

SignWriting is not considered a drawing, but a way of reading and writing in sign language, and because it is not  an international system, it must be adapted to each individual country.

The five parameters of sign languages are used: hand setting, facial expressions, orientation, movements and pivot points, and it is written in both horizontal and vertical form, similar to Japanese writing.

 A  fun fact about it is that the punctuation system in SignWriting is through lines:

  • two lines mean pause or comma,
  • a bold line is the period, end of sentence.

Below is an example of SignWriting:

It is important to have knowledge of SignWriting, a  valuable tool when it supports deaf and hearing people to write. It can also be used through computer software which facilitates learning for deaf people, as their first language is Sign Language and not spoken language.

Valerie Sutton created 5 parts of SignWriting motion notation systems to record:

  • DanceWriting

    (Valerie Sutton is a former dancer, first notation was a dance movement in 1974).

It is a form of body expression movements.

  • SportsWriting

Sports activities, for example: karate, gymnastics, ice skating etc.

  • ScienceWriting (animal movements and body language)
  • SignWriting (Sign Languages)

There are 114 countries that use this SignWriting system, and each country has its own signs. It is a system that offers  great opportunities for all schools, especially when deaf literature is part of the curriculum. The deaf community has also used it  with great success, facilitating the learning process for deaf children.

As you can see, the main goal is to encourage deaf children to write in their own language, mainly because they have difficulties in writing  words of their spoken language, due to the  lack of adequate methodology.

If you want to know more about SignWriting check out this link click here.

    Want to receive the latest news about accessibility, diversity and inclusion?

    To the top