SignWriting List
May 4, 2020

Hi Everyone -
The message I posted below was written from my iPhone. The link for SymbolBank should have been this:


Hope you all are well and staying safe during this interesting time -

My family and I are "sheltering in place" in San Diego area - I hope some of you will write to tell us how you are doing - It is great to hear from you, Charles and Jonathan and Bill - it has been such a long time!

Val ;-)


On May 4, 2020, at 12:29 PM, Valerie Sutton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

SignWriting List
May 4, 2020

Hi Jonathan, Bill, Charles, Steve, Adam, the Brazilian handshape team and SW list members -

What an interesting discussion. Thank you for sharing ideas. And new software that would assist in creating new handshapes might happen someday. That would be a future solution perhaps except I guess Unicode needs stable standards - it starts getting so complex. Or as you mentioned some kind of an interchangeable font system would be nice too - but all this is down the road a bit. 

Let me tell you my thinking for one moment. Developing the ISWA 2008 and 2010 symbol sets was a huge job for me. I sat for years designing each handshape in its many rotations dot by dot, saving them as pngs. Then Adam Frost creates the SVG of the symbols and Steve worked on a bunch of other formats and the auto rotations and flops.  All of these symbols are stored in downloadable packages at bank. 

So it was not just a large job for me but also for Adam and Steve and the Unicode committee and of course programmers like yourself Jonathan, and we have all invested our love and attention  to try to make the ISWA work for over 40 countries and sign languages

Considering how many thousands of people are using the 2010, I think it has done very well. I know there is nothing perfect about it. I worried a lot during the development of it because we all knew there can always be new handshapes needed. We all new there will always be new requests for handshapes with tiny differences. 

So here is what I suggest:  First I need to really read the proposal to see if I feel we cannot write Brazilian signs without the newly proposed hand symbols. Second I need to then write to you all here on the SW List to tell you my findings. If we can determine that 10 or 12 symbols are truly needed then we can discuss the idea of a way to replace other unused symbols with the new ones. That will be up to Steve since Steve encoded the 2010 and works with the Unicode committee. 

Once decisions are made then I have to schedule my time to work on the project. I am semi retired and I do not want to work long hours but I’m game to do symbol editing work in the Fall if need be - maybe in September.

At the moment we are all trying to finish other projects that are already started so that is why I cannot work on it until September. 

No worries. If it is good for the world we will make it work somehow. 

Thanks again for the nice presentation. And thanks for the ongoing discussion 😊

Stay well and safe everyone!! Val 😃

Sent from my iPhone

On May 4, 2020, at 8:39 AM, Bill Reese <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I don't think, at this point, that Steve would be wanting to reinvent the wheel, but perhaps something could be worked out similar to how CAD organizes groups of elements.  In CAD programs, different components like lines, curves, shading can be grouped together and defined as a discrete item called a block.  
For example: a stop sign in the US is made from 8 lines in an octagon shape with the word "Stop" in the middle and perhaps a shading for the area within the octagon.  These can be selected, made into a block in the drawing .. perhaps called "stop".   Thereafter, all a drafter would need to do is insert the "stop" block rather than recreate the stop sign each time.   
The code for the block starts with a header type of element that includes a link to the first element in the block - say a line - and that one, the line, includes a link to the next element and so on and so forth until a tailing element is reached.   Essentially, all the elements that compose the block are "bookended" by the header and tailing elements, which aren't visible. 



From: "Jonathan Duncan" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sunday May 3 2020 2:51:10PM
Subject: [SPAM] Re: Proposal to complement the International Alphabet of SignWriting by Valerie Sutton and Adam Frost

Hi SignWriting list,

    I want to congratulate Profo Rubens Almeida and team for the beautiful work they put into this project.

Val and Steve,

    I was thinking that it's great you are working so that they can add they other symbols to the ISWA 2020.  But I am also thinking that there is what I feel is a shortcoming to the ISWA 2010, which is easy extensibility to create new handshapes.  I believe if the members of SignWriting community who had an issue the the thumbs, if they had easier ways of creating new handshapes and sharing them it wouldn't of been more enjoyable for them.  Also for my hand shape selections, no all symbols look quite the way they should in each position as is.  It would've been nice to have alternative handshapes that fit more with what they would like to choose, where they expect it or show them only the ones in ISWA 2010 like they have now.


I'm not sure which ones were most problematic just right now.

I think the idea of composing new symbols from the pieces is nice.  It would also be backwards compatible with ISWA2010 without any problems.  The real issues are really 

1- keep the parts of the new symbols together so that they can all be moved together.

2- displaying them in the symbol area to choose to include in a sign.

In my opinion, a way to do these two things would be more beneficial than add a few new symbols every 10 years.  

To do it we would need a way to group symbols together within a sign so that they can be moved all together. Maybe creating an extension to FSW to tell the program which symbols should be treated as one symbol.

A separate piece of data to let the programs know under which finger group to display them,  and just display them at the end of the existing ones.

Have a way to distinguish the created symbols, possibly by a hash of the codes of the symbols making it up plus its rotation and palm facing.

I think it would be a better long term solution than changing symbols out from ISWA2010 to ISWA2020.

If you decide to replace some of the symbols in the new ISWA2020 and create FSW.  How will people know not to load it in programs that still have ISWA2010?   They signs would become unreadable in those programs as they would have the old symbols.  Of course this will only be a problem for people having written something with the new symbols in Brazil.

I was just wondering if you had thought of a solution for this problem.   

The only solution that I can think of is to version the FWS and other outputs to let the programs know which set of symbols it is representing, if you use the same values.

If we only create composite symbols, then they can work in all programs,  just that the older programs we will have to drag all the pieces of a symbol one by one. Or in my programs, try to select them together to drag them together.

I realize that ISWA2020 replacing some of the symbols from ISWA2010 is the fastest way to do it but without backwards compatibility.

Look forward to your responses.


On 4/28/2020 9:45 AM, Profo Rubens Almeida wrote:
[log in to unmask]" class="">

Link to access the Public Consultation platform:

Link to access the presentation video accessible in Libras, Portuguese and English:

Link to access the pdf books:

              YOUTUBE - CONSULTA PÚBLICA.png

The goals of the present research are to investigate, share, collect and register the Handshapes (HS) of the Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS) to the modality Writing of LIBRAS by the system SignWriting. It is about a proposal to complement the International Alphabet of SignWriting proposed by Valerie Sutton and Adam Frost in 2010.

This initiative originated from the need to remedy the lack of many graphemes (symbols) of Writing of LIBRAS-SignWriting, referring to LIBRAS’ Handshapes (HS) in the main software of textual production, transcription, and registration of LIBRA’s written form by the SignWriting system, such as SignPuddle and SignMaker software, among others developed by the Programmer and System Analyst Steve Slevinsky. This research is exceptionally relevant for the deaf Brazilian community because the majority of published works produced in LIBRAS’ written modality for the deaf public are developed through a computational system. That means, specific software is used that allows textual production of LIBRAS through the SignWriting system. Despite that, this software does not englobe all graphemes (symbols) of the SignWriting system referring to the graphic representation of LIBRAS’ HS, entailing in its turn, difficulties for writers, translators and researchers in this sense.

we propose the application of the second step which we developed in the form of a Public Consultation on an online platform. This involves sharing the present study with society as a whole, especially with the deaf Brazilian community that uses the LIBRAS’ written modality through the SignWriting system. In this process, we hope to incite many people to share other HS that, until now, are not present in this inventory or in the proposed inventory by Sutton & Frost either, the latter who is also available for consultation on the platform.

Therefore, the expected result with this study is that the investigated and catalogued HS by the collaborative work done through public consultation and its respective registers in this research are that they are evaluated and validated by the system’s inventor, Valerie Sutton and her team, to posteriorly be implemented in the main software of textual production, transcription, and registration of LIBRAS’ written form by the SignWriting system. In this perspective, all the Brazilian users of the Written Sign Language through the SignWriting system will be able to do any production in reference of the Handshapes, that means, without any preoccupations with the Handshape that will be used because there won’t be any past barrier that forced its users to take alternative means to do so.

To each Libras user, please send any handshape. We appreciate it.




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