SignWriting List
March 19, 2015

Hello Yu!
Thank you for this message and for explaining your desire to develop a keyboard for SignWriting.

I am glad to give you information so you can re-formulate your ideas.

First, this link that you give below is Fingerspelling Keyboard, but not the SignWriting Keyboard:

Fingerspelling Keyboard Using SignWriting Symbols

The above link is to a picture of one of the 17 Fingerspelling Keyboards in the SignWriter DOS computer program. But Fingerspelling is not the same as typing true sign languages - Fingerspelling is only a part of signing - Fingerspelling, or the Manual Alphabet, is a way to sign “foreign words” in sign languages - For example, your name “Yu” is not an everyday sign in American Sign Language so when I introduce you to other people while signing with other ASL signers, I would fingerspell your name Y-U - to inform the people in our conversation what your name looks like when written with the Roman alphabet …but it is not a real ASL sign - Fingerspelling is fascinating because some signs that are fingerspelled a lot, can become real signs later, but generally, sign languages can exist without any fingerspelling at all - especially in other countries …the US uses a lot of fingerspelling but not all cultures do...

So the SignWriter DOS computer program has many keyboards - the Fingerspelling keyboards are one-to-one relationships with the letters of the various spoken-language alphabets, but of course we also developed a way to type SignWriting itself, without any one-to-one relationship with the letters of any spoken language - because the SignWriting keyboard is used to write real signs with facial expressions and so many other aspects to writing signs...

That keyboard design for the SignWriter Computer Program, was developed by Richard Gleaves, software developer and myself, giving the perspective of where the hundreds of symbols needed to be placed on the keyboard, and we loved doing that work…if you would like to learn more about that specific keyboard, go to:

SignWriter DOS Computer Program

To read about the design of the SignWriter Computer Program keyboard…please read this document:

Now, there are other keyboard designs too by other developers. One is by Yair Rand, and there are others as well…so we can talk about those later…

Val ;-)


On Mar 18, 2015, at 6:32 PM, Yu Zhang <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi my new friends,

I would also like to create a keyboard for typing SW more efficiently. I would like to create an additional keyboard, base on deaf culture, not the vocal language, I mean 26 letters. Because deaf people do not use SW that way. I wish the keyboard could be more close to the habit how people are signing. Due to the keyboard idea also relates to UI design, industrial design, programming, etc. I am not sure how much knowledge I should learn to finish this project. It is my graduate design :) I tried to do some lit review about SW keyboard. Just found two virtual ones here: And both of them based on two different concepts which are are also different form mine.

I know Miss Val, Mr Richard Gleaves and an Italian guy are also working on this idea. How do people get start this project? How far have people gone on this road? How many design concepts have people developed? Is there any paper about this idea? What are the challenges up to now?

Currently I am just starting learning SW myself. I wish to get some general ideas about creating a SW keyboard.
Hopefully I could get reply!
Thank you so much!

Best Regards,


Valerie Sutton SignWriting List moderator [log in to unmask]

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