On Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 8:20 PM, Mathieu Roy <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> What do you think of the different writing systems that have been created since 1825?

Check out the previous email threads on this topic from March 2012:

"Written Form of American Sign Language":

"Sutton SignWritting":

> Which one is your favorite and why?

I only seriously considered Sutton SignWritting and si5s, because the
other systems seem better suited to narrow transcription needed for
linguistics work, but not the broad transcription I'd want to see for
an everyday writing system. (But see David Peterson's well-written
critique in the previous email threads.)

SignWriting is a little older and has a larger following, including
international support by other sign language communities. However, I
really just hate how it looks like a bunch of diagrams, not like a
"real" writing system. This is of course purely an aesthetic,
subjective thing, but there it is. You can read more about it here:

si5s is newer and has the "political" benefit of being invented by a
Deaf person (which is not true of SignWriting). It also just looks
more like a naturalistic writing system to me. But because it's so
much newer, it is very much still evolving. I'm actually using si5s to
take notes in my ASL class and to make flashcards for myself; I'm also
talking with one of the si5s textbook authors about making a font &

Sites about si5s:!forum/aslwrite

> What is the percentage of people signing in ASL that can also write in this language?

Very very few, regardless of which written form of ASL you're talking
about. As you can see from the previous conversation we'd had about
written ASL, there is a lot of resistance within the American Deaf
community to the very idea of a written form of the language, much
less consensus about *which* form to use.

> Are non-deaf people generally welcome in deaf communities?

In my (limited) experience with ASL Deaf groups, whether hearing
people are welcome is entirely dependent on said hearing people's
attitudes. Educate yourself on Deaf culture, what it's like (both now
and in past generations), and disabuse yourself of the common
misconceptions. If you treat it like any other cultural & linguistic
minority, you should be okay.

Note that there are some Deaf jerks — just like there are hearing
jerks. But by and large, I've had great experiences chatting with my
(very beginner!) ASL in Deaf groups. Just be polite and respectful,
y'know? :)

> What are your favorite web sites and/or books to learn ASL?

> And I also saw these websites:,, and

The All Deaf forums are a great place to lurk and learn about Deaf
culture. Be prepared to read some shocking stories of the crap they
have to put up with! :(