SignWriting List
August 19, 2013

Question from a private email about SignWriting Workshops & Symposia:

Answer from Valerie Sutton

Thank you for your questions. If you or anyone would like to learn SignWriting right now, privately on Skype or FaceTime, it can be arranged. If you know of a group in your area, that would like to hire a teacher to travel to your area to teach in person, that can be arranged too…. SignWriting is spreading all over the world, and there is no limit to the possibilities. No one is limited. You can learn behind your own computer without leaving your home, or you can arrange for a big event with a teacher. And you can learn without a teacher too, by downloading free books and software.

And our small organization here in the US does not "represent the US", nor is it the only representative of SignWriting around the world. I do not teach workshops in person any longer. I do teach one-on-one on Skype occasionally, but I leave the workshops and symposia teaching to other teachers…

Our non-profit organization arranges workshops for others, but there are courses and workshops teaching SignWriting that I do not know about too…Not everyone tells us about their workshops - so I cannot give you numbers - I have no idea how many SignWriting workshops there are in the world… There are also online courses on SignWriting now, by the way...

So to answer your questions...

1. How many workshops are there per year?

Around the World and in the US: I don't know the number. There are workshops being conducted every year on SignWriting by other groups.

In my small non-profit organization, the Center for Sutton Movement Writing, here in La Jolla, California:

…we conducted three workshops so far in 2013:

1. To Saudi Arabia on Skype - it was a real workshop over the internet, taught by Adam Frost to a group, June 2013
2. SignWriting Workshop Near the Beach - in La Jolla, California, taught by Adam Frost and Nancy Romero, July 2013
3. A private workshop in Michigan, taught by Adam Frost, August 2013

Our organization has also given private lessons on Skype in 2013 too - 

In 2014 our organization hopes to host a SignWriting Symposium 2014 in La Jolla, California, but I do not have the details yet…Nothing is setup yet… The First European SignWriting Symposium in Brussels, Belgium in 2005 was very successful.

First European SignWriting Symposium in Belgium in 2005

2. Does  it depend on the number of people who are interested in?

Not in our organization. Anyone can learn SignWriting any time…so the group size does not matter to us...

3. When was the first one?

The first workshops I taught on SignWriting in the United Sates was in 1977 to the New England Sign Language Society at MIT, and the second workshop was to the National Theater of the Deaf in Connecticut. Read more about these events:

4. The last workshop was the one on the beach, wasn’t it?

No. For our organization, the last one was last week in Michigan to a private group. I know of two workshops (courses) in Brazil last week as well - I am sure there are other workshops around the world being held right now that we do not know about…

5. How many people are in one course?

Each situation is different. Our organization's last workshop had around 20 to 25 people - other workshops have fewer and other workshops have more - Workshops and courses vary …

6. Are there a lot deaf and some hearing people? Do you know if they learn it for private use (maybe cause they have deaf children) or as teachers cause they think about using it in school??

Again every workshop is different. Both Deaf and hearing people come together depending on the workshop. The last workshop last week was all Deaf and using American Sign Language, but the SignWriting Workshop Near the Beach had a mixture of Deaf and hearing people. When I taught the National Theater of the Deaf in 1977, that was all Deaf, but a recent private lesson on Skype was with a hearing interpreter - so we have workshops and courses and lessons to interpreters, teachers, Deaf people, hearing people from all walks of life, all cultures and languages, and all ages.

7. Do you teach all these courses/ workshops or are there other courses as well?

I only teach private lessons on Skype. My health issues limit my ability to teach workshops, but there are excellent teachers around the world who teach SignWriting… SignWriting is taught in schools in several countries, and those are ongoing courses.

So my answers must seem awfully international and very open without structure, but that is the way I think and the way I work. I am happy that SignWriting is taught around the world.

SignWriting is so big now, that it is bigger than all of us, and no one person or organization can know all that is happening…

The most important thing to know is that if you want to have SignWriting in your school or learn it yourself, it is possible, but you need to take the initiative and suggest it to others, so that you can arrange for it to happen -

It does need to be in more schools, and that can only happen if students and teachers request it -

Thanks again for the questions -

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
SignWriting List moderator
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