I remember years ago when I did the first demo model of Sign Writing on computer on an Apple II e in New York City, it was set up as the old SignWriter program.  With a swipe of the keys one could change any text into fingerspelling, and then one could go to a single word, switch over to sign mode, and change that word into SignWriting if it was in the dictionary.  That got the whole dance world excited, and we were peppered with questions as to how quickly this could actually work. 

We seem to have gone far away from that kind of interaction and I miss it.  It was simple, it was straightforward, at least for the user. 

The old SignWriter program enabled one to have a very quick interaction between the spoken and signed alphabets.  Now, putting something in fingerspelling is a very tedious process outside of Adam's blog.  Why isn't there an interface in the SWIS to fingerspelling of multiple languages so that if you hit "translate" mode, it would pull all the word choices in the dictionary, but also include simply fingerspelling the word if one doesn't exist rather than a Question Mark, and automated link to a special character set, as it were. 

Now that we have SWIS, every one of the fingerspelling alphabets for each of the languages is presumably in the character set, and could be identified as such as default as "dictionary mode".  Whether we like it or not, many of the Deaf sign languages are imbedded in a spoken language environment and include fingerspelling as a modality of sign. 

From: Adam Frost <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wed, August 4, 2010 1:07:28 AM
Subject: Behind The Curtains of the ASL FrostVillage Blog

As I am sure that you may have notice, I am always doing something to make my blog a little better. I want to thank everyone on their feedback about making it a vertical theme or not. I haven't done anything with it yet, but I don't doubt that it will be something that I will do. The main reason is that it will take a bit of work to do it, but I don't have the time right now for it since I am also working with Val to get a book done. 

So what have I been doing behind the curtains of my blog with the little time I do have? Well, you may or may not remember back in July 2009 I had made it so that I had "everything" that wasn't in SignWriting would be converted to fingerspelling. I put everything in quotes because there was still some things that I just couldn't get so that it would work right since I was using images. And there was no way that something typed in a comment box could be written in fingerspelling as it is being typed. Then in Nov 2009 I took a large portion of the converting into fingerspelling off because I had just posted about the death of Larry Fleischer, which ended up having a lot of hits and eventually crashing my hosting service because of the heavy load to handle all of those images. I have since been hoping for the time when I could come back to that issue.

As I am sure you have guessed by now, I have come back to it. I came across some information that said that I could embed fonts on my webpage if it was something that I knew most people wouldn't have on their computer but was important to the website. That brought me to the recollection of the fingerspelling fonts that Michael Everson had created. I downloaded the font and placed it on my website, placed the code to embed the font into the ASL FrostVillage Blog, and now all text is in fingerspelling... even when typing in a text box! The only catch is that IE and mobile phone (including iPhone and iPads) require a font format other than TrueType (Embedded Open Type and Scalable Vector Graphics receptively), so fingerspelling does not show up on them at this time since I only have TrueType. 

So if you would like to see this in action, go to with Firefox. I am sure you could use other browsers other than IE, but I have been using Firefox the most for my programming so I know that my blog looks best on it. I should warn you that if you aren't used to reading a lot of fingerspelling, don't trying reading people's comments that have not been put in SignWriting. ;-) 

Let me know what you think. And I would like to thank Michael Everson for the work that he had done with the font to make it possible. This just means that we are that much closer to having all of SignWriting being written as text rather than using images. I find this very exciting. SMILE!