Grants talk:Project/slevinski/ASL Wikipedia 2-D Font Development for SignWriting

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Final Thoughts[edit]

Since we closed the non-profit this year, I thought I would submit this grant one final time but as an individual. I thought we were gaining traction within Wikimedia, but the world is a complex and diverse world. Things I care about and know to be true are not known or accepted by everyone else. Such is life.

I answered all of the committee members comments in archive 3. I wanted to highlight one comment in particular with a new answer. I was so focused on the "are they not able to read texts?" portion, that I never addressed the first part.

   It remains unclear to me the impact and the target. What is the need to satisfy? I suppose deaf people, but are they not able to read texts?

"What is the need to satisfy?" Or put another way, why should you care?


Impact and Target[edit]

   Wikimedia Vision: Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.

The true impact of SignWriting is that we can add to the sum of human knowledge with an international script (ISO 15924 script code Sgnw 2006) that is available in Unicode (2015), that has been used to write over 40 sign language.

   "In the same way that works written in and about a well developed writing system such as the Latin script, the time has arrived where SW is so widespread, that it is impossible in the same way to list all works that have been produced using this writing system and that have been written about this writing system."[1]


Beyond concern for the deaf, the target of this grant is human knowledge itself. To truly share in the sum of human knowledge you need to be able to access the information and you need to be able to improve the content. Wikimedia projects benefit from group editing and from the knowledge of the crowd.

So rather than focusing on the deaf being able to access information in sign language, we need to shift our focus to the ideas of contributing to and improving upon the sum of all human knowledge.

Sign language is important to document. It has been done with images, animation, videos, and other technologies. The problem is that these forms are difficult to use in a wiki environment. They have a high cost of editing that requires special knowledge, special tools, and significant time. Text is much easier to edit.

Rather than less options, this grant is about more options. I am not against video editing for sign language, but that's a different project. I am not against other sign language scripts. I'm particularly friendly with ASLwrite and I hope one day they also get a script code and they get added to Unicode, but that's also a different project.

By giving the community more options, they can choose the best options for their use. By lowering the cost of editing, they can more freely share in the sum of all knowledge in an active role and they can help improve that knowledge.

Why would we want to document sign language? For the same reason we'd want to document math or physics. In order to discuss a topic, you want to use an appropriate form of representation.

Just as the visual editor lowers the cost of general editing of Wikipedia pages, the two-dimensional font for SignWriting will lower the cost of writing and editing sign language. That's the benefit of using text rather than images or video.

Just as Chinese can be written with a variety of scripts and transcription methods, there are a variety of methods for writing sign language. While I am a SignWriting evangelist, I understand that SignWriting isn't the only way to write sign language. From what I've seen and experienced, I believe that SignWriting is the best way to write sign language as text. I truly believe that the Wikimedia projects would be improved if they could easily use SignWriting.

Thanks for taking the time to read and consider this proposal.

-Slevinski (talk) 13:23, 16 May 2020 (UTC)



Round 1 2020 decision[edit]

IEG IdeaLab review.png

This project has not been selected for a Project Grant at this time.

We love that you took the chance to creatively improve the Wikimedia movement. The committee has reviewed this proposal and not recommended it for funding, but we hope you'll continue to engage in the program. Please drop by the IdeaLab to share and refine future ideas!

Comments regarding this decision:
We will not be funding your project this round. The committee supports the idea of developing a sign language script for Wikipedia, both to improve access for deaf communities and well as to help us document more forms of knowledge. However, the committee is not convinced yet that SignWriting has been widely enough adopted in deaf communities to be a sustainable, scalable means of meeting this goal.

Next steps:

  1. Visit the IdeaLab to continue developing this idea and share any new ideas you may have.
  2. Applicants whose proposals are declined are welcome to consider resubmitting your application again in a future round. We ask that you first email projectgrants(_AT_)wikimedia · org to indicate your interest in resubmission so staff can review any concerns with your proposal that contributed to a decline decision, and help you determine whether resubmission makes sense for your proposal.
  3. Check back at the schedule for information about the next open call to submit proposals.

Questions? Contact us.


On behalf of the Project Grants Committee: Morgan Jue (WMF) (talk) 19:11, 29 May 2020 (UTC).

  1. Galea, Maria (2014). SignWriting (SW) of Maltese Sign Language (LSM) and its development into an orthography: Linguistic considerations (Ph.D. dissertation). Malta: University of Malta. Archived from the original on 13 May 2018. Retrieved 4 February 2015.