Learn to Read ASL in SignWriting
Video Review by Chris Wixtrom © 2000
Learn to Read American Sign Language in SignWriting®
by Valerie Sutton
Learn to Read Goldilocks and the Three Bears [ISBN 0-914336-46-0]
Signed in American Sign Language by Darline Clark Gunsauls
Publisher: The Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting® March 1999
VHS video and book
Sponsor: The Center for Sutton Movement Writing, Inc., a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) educational organization.
SignWriting® was first invented by Valerie Sutton in 1974.
The Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting®
P.O. Box 517, La Jolla, CA 92038-0517 USA
TTY: 619.456.0010 Voice: 619.456.0098 FAX: 619.456.0020
There are over 5,000 languages alive in the world today. Most of the western languages have a spoken form and an alphabetic writing system. Chinese is the most widely-spoken language in the world, with a logographic writing system that includes over 50,000 characters. There are many different sign languages, as well, each as different from its spoken language neighbor as television is from radio. Valerie Sutton has done sign language users a huge favor - she has created a movement alphabet for writing these languages. To make learning this alphabetic system easy and enjoyable, Ms. Sutton has designed entertaining book-video sets for self- instruction. One of these learning resources is Learn to Read American Sign Language in SignWriting: Learn to Read Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
This learning kit comes with a high-quality video featuring native ASL storyteller Darline Clark Gunsauls sharing four fairy tales from English literature, one of which is the popular Goldilocks story. An instructional manual captures her story frame-by-frame from the video, and translates it to SignWriting symbols. Two storybooks help readers progress from intermediate to advanced reading levels. (Other materials are available for beginning levels.) The books are beautifully illustrated and very clear.
The Deaf Action Committee, which publishes the set, is supported by grants and donations. It is hoped that many more investors will recognize the revolutionary work being done through the SignWriting Literacy Project, an outreach project promoting SignWriting in schools as a bi-lingual reading program.
The invention and use of a written form for a language tends to raise respect for that language among users of other languages. Somehow, once a language is written, there can be no argument as to its validity and status as a "real" language - one that is unique, complex, and worthy of study. Print materials record the language's treasured literature in the exact form developed by its authors and artists. Committed to paper, the language shares its associated cultural wisdom more widely among its people. Written language encourages literacy. In the context of a bilingual environment, literacy in one language promotes skills in translation to and from a second language. How many ways do I love SignWriting? Let me count the ways ... oh, and let me have another look at that SignWriting video and book!