Talk:Requests for new languages/Wikipedia American Sign Language 2

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  • Why is a new project necessary as opposed to, say, a WikiProject on the English-language Wikipedia to create videos communicating the article's text in ASL? --Iamunknown 20:23, 21 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]
    Well, you probably wouldn't want videos: there are standardized fonts and Unicode characters for ASL, so presumably you could have a textual source which rendered into ASL, and I believe the submitter mentioned this.
    • I'm sorry, but there is not codified version of ASL that is sufficient. Sign Writing and Stokoe notation both have their flaws, mostly in fluency and specific signs. No form is yet widely used, but what IS widely used is ASL itself. The only way to tap the millions of users into the community is to make this a video project. It'd be unique and garner a lot of attention if this was to succeed, but there is no written equivalent to ASL. There are far, far too many intricacies that fall through the cracks. JoeSmack 21:52, 9 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
      We have a fair number of Wikipedias in languages that don't have a strong written tradition, so that isn't a unique problem, and there are ways of developing a "working standard". An important thing to consider is that it's impossible to apply the wiki model directly to videos. That said, there's no reason the ASL Wikipedia couldn't develop a project like en:Wikipedia:WikiProject Spoken Wikipedia for videos of articles once they are developed through text editing, thus making the results available to a wider audience.--Pharos 22:20, 9 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
    Forgive my ignorance here, but do ASL users actually use ASL for written communication? If they do in serious numbers, then an ASL wiki, with an ASL interface and ASL source text, could be justified.
    If not, then what's really being requested is a way to get at English wikipedia content through ASL. Presumably the conversion from English text to ASL can be automated to some degree: if it can be almost fully automated, the thing to do would be to change the English Wikipedia to support an "ASL view" on any English Wikipedia page. --Saforrest 13:08, 23 February 2007 (UTC)[reply]
    Saforrest: See my post under #Arguments in favour; ASL has little relation to English other than sharing a geographical area with English, and conversion is impossible unless you first have a perfect automatic translator. And yes, ASL is used for written communication, though not often (according to its Wikipedia entry); I see no reason why we shouldn't be promoting its use as a written language. Jon Harald Søby 10:03, 7 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
    Not English, American English.. this is however not a criticism against the project. GerardM 17:14, 12 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
    Nobody has an automated translator from any language to any language. At your best you can build a rough translator and make it better in stages (would you be able to make a massive use of by passing it thru babelfish?). Any of the symbols used in a linguistic communication has individual implications plus those that come from the general context. Meaning is built by fractal complexity. Any time you translate a text some of that meaning gets lost, because it's connected with the culture in which the linguistic entity originated. And (what's even worse) some new meaning gets added/invented by the translator. Even human translators cannot make perfect translations, you have but an aproximation anyway. The ASL is so different in nature and originates from a human community that is physically different from us, it cannot fail to have these peculiarities included in itself. --Bèrto 'd Sèra 10:18, 21 June 2007 (UTC)[reply]
    • Iamunknown: Why would it be a project on the English Wikipedia? ASL is not in any way related to the English language, it just happens to be used in the same geographical area (but not exclusively – see my post under #Arguments in favour above). Having it as a wikiproject on the English Wikipedia (as opposed to a separate project) would be like rejecting a Wikipedia in Cherokee because English is spoken in the same area where Cherokee is spoken. Jon Harald Søby 10:03, 7 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
      • Interesting, I didn't know that. A questions of clarification: would people who understand ASL as it is signed in the United States understand it as it is signed in Côte d'Ivoire. (Note: I chose Côte d'Ivoire from [1] semi-randomnly.) --Iamunknown 00:52, 13 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
        • Yes, probably, unless the signer from the Ivory Coast uses a very heavy dialect (as I know the Ivorians do with French), or xe is using another sign languge (there may be many sign languages in one area). But in theory, they should be able to understand each other. Jon Harald Søby 05:39, 13 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
        • IF you are asking is ASL universal, the answer is NO. American Sign Language is indigenous to the US (with a French influence early on) but the ASL and LSF are different. I have no idea what Sign Lnaguage they use in Cote d'Ivorie, but even if it is French Sign Language (LSF) they are related but different languages. Just like Spanish and Portuguese are related, but are not the same. Template:Usigned
    • I'm not an expert, but I believe that ASL users do use ASL for written communication in a significant amount, and that automatic conversion is not possible. Tuf-Kat 12:12, 2 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
      • Semi automatic conversion is possible with SignWriting using gloss. Type in an English gloss and SignWriting is returned. This is based on dictionary entries. After the conversion has been completed, the text can be edited to refine the writing. -Steve 00:51 10 March 2007 (UTC)
        • Yes, it would be possible to use rough machine translation to help in translating articles. Tuf-Kat's point is that ASL is not at all just some version of English with simple differences; of course its an entirely different language and human translation is necessary.--Pharos 05:03, 10 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
        • The problem is that ASL is in no way related to English. Gloss is a system for notetaking using English words to represent signs. The gloss does not mean the English word, the Sign does not mean the English word. The gloss is merely a symbol representing the Sign, the Sign represents a concept. If you took French words and just substituted their English equivalent, the result will probably not make much sense. Le Pomme de Terre (spelling may be off) used as 'gloss' would translate as "the apple of earth." Unless you know French, you have no idea what that really means, which would be potato. If I take written English and substitute Signs for each English word in that sequence, I am not signing ASL, I am signing an artificially created code called Signed English. It has no relation to ASL, other than that they are both done with the hands. If I translate sign into Gloss, I might end up with something like "FINISH TOUCH CALIFORNIA YOU" As English readers, you might get a glimmer of what that means, but it can't convey the grammar of the sentence. In ASL, Grammar is carried in large part on the face... SignWriting can show that facial Grammar, written English does not. A complete glossing system can show some of that, but not all. In the sentence in gloss above, a fuller gloss writing would have a line above the sentence with a small 'wh' over the YOU, representing the facial expression that makes that a question.
          • Some are using gloss translation right now as a starting point for written sign. Go ahead and try it. SignPuddle 1.5 ASL Translation. It's more of a substitution than translation, but it is very effective to get a quick start. The resulting signs can then be edited if needed to add facial expression or other details. Straight English doesn't work and it helps if you know what's in the dictionary. It has been used very successfully in the Bible translation project. - Steve 10:34 12 April 2007 (UTC)
          • A strange idea has just occurred to me. We could have an optional "SignWriting Learning Mode" with SignWriting characters and automatic English dictionary translation underneath each word. This would look very strange to a non-ASL user, but theoretically it should help bilingual ASL-English people to learn SigmWriting in a natural way.--Pharos 21:28, 22 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
            • This would lead to another problem that occurs when using gloss to try to function as 'translation'. English is linear, holding one 'bit' (for lack of a better term, not being a linguist) of information at a time. ASL is oh-so-very-NOT-linear. ASL is capable of layering loads of information into very small amounts of movement. The whole classifier system (which English has almost nothing comparable) would be nontranslateable in a gloss system. When the cursor hovered over a sign it might have to show CL:B/CL:3[car swerves/fishtails left-right-left then shoots out over cliff and plummets down] Everything in the brackets is information conveyed by the CL:1 and CL:B. All that would be one sign in ASL. Signwriting can write ASL, completely: the difficulty comes in trying to do an automatic conversion using English or gloss. 11:32, 19 April 2007 (UTC)cwterp[reply]
  • Stokoe is for research, SignWriting is for writing. However, SignWriting does not use standard text manipulation. The symbols are not sequential but appear in space. Each sign is a self contained image, but signs are used in vertical lanes and they are centered based on the head symbols. It would be possible to use multiple image strips that contain several signs properly spaced and placed or a specialized markup language that generates these images. -Steve 00:51, 10 March 2007 (UTC)
We could either use the SignWriting Markup Language or develop something analogous to WikiHiero.--Pharos 05:03, 10 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
    • There are several versions of SWML and each uses a different symbol set. The IMWA is the latest symbol set for SignWriting and only SWML-S uses this set. The current DTD for SWML-S 1.1 is available online. It needs to be updated, but it is working. It is used in SignText, to generate graphics and to send emails. Instead of XML, a series of build strings can also be used. It is much more compact with multiple lines of comma delimited data. Last year, I hack in SWML support into Wikimedia. It was relatively successful. I could probably do a better job today. Perhaps I should write a proper add-on for Wikimedia. I'll look into it after I've finished SignPuddle 1.5 and the new version of SignText. -Steve 15:42, 10 March (UTC)
  • Latinized Russian Wikipedia, Cyrillic Swedish Wikipedia, Sign language Wikipedia... What Wiki then? Eye language Wikipedia? Or Klingon Wikipedia? We don't need anecdotes anymore — because Incubator looks like a big anecdote. - Dmitry-spb 17:48, 13 November 2007 (UTC)[reply]
              • -the sign puddle idea to jumpstart this is good, why not also jumpstart it using youtube? simply translate a few wikipedia articles on your youtube page into video ASL then link it to this talk page? If someone will show me an open source non copyright asl video dictionary, I would just take the videos of the individual words from the dict., that corrospond to the words (in order) in articles, and i would create a 'youtube playlist' for every section of an article, numbered 1,2,3, 4 see also, 5 references, 6 ext links, . the playlist is composed of extremely short 3 second videos of each word signed. then I link the videos in a playlist so they play back to back. then i arrange my playlists so they match the article format. Then, being new to ASL, I go to my ASL prof, I ask him to help me order them. He will be flattered, I change the order from english order to ASL order. then I link to this page.

The BEST video way I can think of making this(ASL wiki Should be video because that is what ASL is not signwriting not all ASL users know signwriting) is a sentence composed of rectangular icons each for a word, In ASL order, arranged in sentences. These icons are grayscale low def still frames of the first frame of the video 3 secs long of the word (save memory at user end). each video is seperate. when you browse the cursor over each icon it expands to 2X its size and plays the short video. You can now read sentances in ASL at your own speed or go back and reread a sentence. We might find that doing it this way ('alphabetizing' it into discrete words each a seperate video, which can be copied/reused in many articles over and over), will indeed speed the process of making articles up. I for one could plug videos for words in and have someone more knowledgeable help me in the arrangement/ deletion of them later. This is better than asking people to record a single video for an article. If the signer is the same person it will not be disconcerting to watch. I need some kind of web powerpoint for this... perhaps there is a powerpoint analog of youtube (free) that allows you to make powerpoint-like presentations and change the design of stuff like the way I am saying? I know there must be somewhere because I use online flash card programs that are similar. There is a difference between doing this in a way that covers every single Tab, Logo, button on a page (which is after all the way all existing wikis work - the buttons for swedish wiki are in swedish- and ASL is visual so it needs to be visual) and doing this in a way that leaves buttons, tabs, references and external links in English. here is a link to me attempting to do a youtube video of my sole and only wikipedia article:

I also think, that Community Colleges that teach ASL could get students to make an article as a final project for an ASL class... and grade it. The people at my ASL class' Lab at college have a lot of time on their hands they might help out for free.

-if an automatic translator were set up. you could take those uncleaned articles and correct them by hand. this would be 1.5X quicker than translating articles one to one manually. just dump the auto translate into the talk and forward it to someone willing to translate it. The idea is to create a large corpus of ASL articles to make this viable quickly? --Nathanielfirst

Correspondence with Valerie Sutton, inventor of SignWriting[edit]

As SignWriting seems to be the only written form of ASL with an active internet community, I have written to for information on how the organized SignWriting community could help. I received a very positive reply from w:Valerie Sutton, the inventor of SignWriting. She informed me that the Center for Sutton Movement Writing has funding in place to produce written Sign Language literature, and that they would be glad to direct some of this funding toward developing an ASL Wikipedia. She also expressed interest in working with the Wikimedia Foundation to develop further grants for the project. This seems like a very positive proposal, and a good reason to use SignWriting, although as I said I think Stokoe automatic translation might be possible as well. I am posting this on Ms. Sutton's behalf as she is not familiar with wiki-editing and is presently very busy with a software project for SignWriting publishing.--Pharos 00:09, 10 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Incompatability of Sutton SignWriting with Wikipedia ideals[edit]

Sutton SignWriting cannot be used for a Wikipedia because it is not a free writing system. That is to say, it is the writing system is copyrighted by Ms Sutton, and it is not released into the public domain. The ability of someone (a person who, AFAIK, isn't even fluent in any signed language) to "own" a writing system has not yet been challenged in court, I don't believe, and it is very possible that it is not compatible with copyright law. Until such time, however, as it is accorded a "free" status, either by Ms Sutton (the holder of the copyright) or by the courts, it is not suitable for use in Wikimedia projects. Lest you think I am discriminating against users of signed languages, the same applies to other non-free writing systems, such as those from the Tolkien books (although they are much less widely used and are used only for writing non-natural languages).

This is very unfortunate, as Sutton SignWriting is the most widely-used writing system for signed languages (besides glosses from a locally- or internationally-prominent spoken language).

The user "Steve" said earlier that SSW is for writing and Stokoe is for study. This is not true, this is a falsehood often repeated by Ms. Sutton's supporters to downplay the ease of use and simple computer compatability of the writing system originally designed by William Stokoe, a pioneer in sign linguistics.

This may be truer for "HamNoSys", a sort of IPA for signed languages. Stokoe, however, is essentially the same as Sutton SignWriting, except that it uses different graphic forms, it can be written in-line and is compatible with traditional computer text storage and retrieval methods, and it has certain minor deficiencies (it does not record facial expressions).

Stokoe is also "free", although this could change in the future (I'm not sure who holds the copyright over Stokoe's works, but it may be possible for them to claim copyright over the writing system in the future; however it is currently free and that is what matters).

The main problems with Stokoe are

  1. Its graphic forms are ASL-centric (many glyphs for the handshapes are based on ASL fingerspelling), however this does not mean it cannot be used for other signed languages (it has been used for several others, including a recent high-quality dictionary of BSL), just that the symbols must be memorized without the mnemonic aid of the glyphs that makes it so much easier to learn for ASL users
  2. It is not currently fully supported by Unicode. Most symbols are supported at an individual level, however the complex nature of the SIG element of each sign is difficult to replicate with Unicode. It can be represented with "font hacks", preferrably using the Private Use Area, this would be easy to convert with a bot once Stokoe support is added to Unicode
  3. Probably the biggest issue is that Stokoe has only very tepid support within the ASL community as a writing system. Most do not know it (although it would be easy to learn), those that do are mostly people who have studied ASL extensively in a linguistic context. However, this does not prevent it from being used; similarly to how the non-widespread writing systems used on CDO and ZH-MIN-NAN wikis are explained simply and conveniently on a Help: page to the extent that a new user will be able to understand the writing with only very little effort (same is done on GAN test-wp), it would be very easy to create a page explaining Stokoe notation with examples and practice. Also, it would be _relatively_ simple to create a proprietary 3rd party browser extension to convert to images of SSW symbols, so that we would not actually be using the non-free system but our content would still be easily accessable to those who are already familiar with that system. -- 23:18, 10 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

As an ASL user who has tried to learn both Stokoe and SignWriting, I can say I learned SignWriting quickly and easily, and never could figure out Stokoe. Just as an unfamiliar word in English can be 'sounded out'an unfamiliar sign in SignWriting can be "felt out." It is intuitive. It is complete-- able to convey any movement I can make with my hands, my face, or my body. The same cannot be said for Stokoe, from what I saw of it.

  • I do not know where you got the idea that SignWriting is not free to use. It is free to use by anyone under a free licence (much like the GNU Licence that Wikipedia has). If it wasn't, I doubt that there would be many users today. --Icemandeaf 01:23, 11 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
  • This whole section is incorrect. Neither Ms. Sutton nor her foundation has ever copyrighted or patented the system of SignWriting. It is true that the name "SignWriting" has been trademarked, but the existence of trademarks is hardly incompatible with Wikipedia's free content mission; the name "Wikipedia" has itself been trademarked. You should be aware that copyright law and trademark law are two very different things.
"We do have trademarks, but that is not a copyright. A trademark (the™ or ®) relates solely to the "name" SignWriting. If someone else invents a separate notation system, they can call their new system anything they want, except the specific name SignWriting, because that name is connected to our non-profit organization because of the registration of that trademark...but that has nothing to do with the symbols themselves..only the name of the writing system." – from Ms. Sutton's recent correspondence with me. See also the SignWriting FAQ.
Ms. Sutton was quite surprised by the comment that SignWriting was copyrighted, and in her correspondemce with me said, "Just want to be sure you understand that SignWriting is free to use and is fully capable and fully free for use, as a translation and writing system for any signed language." Ms. Sutton was very clear on this point: "And NO ONE owns any language...languages are free for everyone to use...otherwise they would not be used!" And this has been their position for over thirty years, showing that they've embraced "free culture" long before there was such a thing as a free software movement. She also stressed that SignWriting has been absolutely free to use by programmers for any purpose, and wanted to emphasize the charitable nature of the Center for Sutton Movement Writing.--Pharos 19:54, 11 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Why not an ASL Wikipedia with several different writing methods and modes?[edit]

This request is to have a Wikipedia for American Sign Language. We have discussed several ways to do that: Stokoe Notation, Sutton SignWriting, HamNoSys, and even a video section. What's wrong with using all of those to make this Wikipedia the most accessible to all ASL users? I know that Chinese has a simple and traditional. Why not we have something like that? We can talk about what we think works better than something else, and we will never agree. I personally don't see anything wrong with any of these methods. True, it will mean that there has to be someone to do each of these methods to get this Wikipedia going. Somehow, I don't think that will be a problem because everyone has mentioned a favor for one of these methods. And unless I am mistaken, there has not been one comment that has been against the idea of a Wikipedia in ASL. If this is the case, why not let the readers (or viewers) choose which method they wish to read (or view) an ASL Wikipedia. Everyone will have different opinions about how to go about it, but if we agree to have it why not just have each method go for it?--Icemandeaf 20:35, 11 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

  • I agree. But automatic conversion must be a priority from the start; it would be very unfortunate if we developed a segregated mishmash of ASL articles in different systems that were only intelligible to one segment of the community. I do think, though, that videos should be secondary to written text, just as the spoken article sound recordings on Wikipedia are secondary to the written text. This is because videos, like sound recordings, are fundamentally unwiki-editable (incidentally, this seems to have been the main reason the first ASL Wikipedia proposal was rejected, because it was too video-centric). I do think though, considering that most ASL users are not yet familiar with any of the various writing systems, we could have a "holding pen" for video uploads without text, that could then be transcribed by experienced persons and formally published as articles.--Pharos 21:21, 11 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]
    • "Automatic conversion" what do you mean by this? Automatic conversion of the English Wikipedia to ASL? Not possible. Automatic conversion between SignWriting, Stokoe, and HamNoSys? I am not a programming expert, but the systems are VERY different-- it would be highly doubtful. My personal opinion- the only sriting system for ASL that is fully capable of writing every nuance of the language AND has an ease of reading/learning/writing that will make it useable by a wide community is SignWriting. It is not accepted 100% by all deaf people yet, but it is used by more than any of the other choices, and it is the only one (my opinion remember?) that has a ghost of a chance to become THE writing system for ASL, and any other Sign Language. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk)
      • Actually, I know of a project that will be designed to do exactly that ... transfer between various methods of transcribing/writing sign languages. It is still in its conceptual stages at this point, so it is not something that is available right now. When I hear more about that, I can let you know. — The preceding unsigned comment was added by Thiessenstuart (talk)
ASL video practicalities[edit]

In researching methods for representing sign language on video, I discovered MobileASL, a system intended for ASL video compression on mobile phones. It is I think a proprietary system, largely based on giving higher resolution to the face and hands than to the rest of the picture. But one of its developers, Richard Ladner, though he expressed skepticism at the usefulness of sign writing systems, was kind enough to give some general advice on ASL videos and compression. He pointed to their research (PDF), which suggests that 10 frames per second on a 320 x 240 field is a good standard, with their best results at 25kbps. He recommended against using signed avatars as "not up to the task yet". He also recommended H.264 as a compression standard; Wikimedia projects currently use Ogg Theora for videos. To be frank, there is a lot of that paper that's beyond my experience, both in signing and in image compression; I'm sure it would be profitable for others to look at it.

It also strikes me that there are a couple of differences between Wikipedia's goals and that of a mobile phone video system. For one, Wikipedia is not real-time, so we could theoretically use more computationally intensive video compression. Also we can expect our contributors to record videos in a structured way, so that a contributor could consciously "confine" their signing to a smaller space if that would help. And because personal touches are irrelevant for an encyclopedia, we could get way with black-and-white videos if that was necessary.--Pharos 18:29, 20 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

The MobileASL project is a research project that uses the open source x264 implementation of the H.264 standard [2]. The particular suggestions of 10 frames per second, 320 x 240 resolution and 25 kbps are only for current cell phones that have limited bandwidth and computer speed. For broadband, more frames per second, higher resolution, and bit rates would be preferred. We do recommend more bits be allocated for the face because of the subtle facial expressions that are important in sign language. We believe, but have not confirmed, that the hands may need more bits when the signer is finger spelling. --Ladner 04:47, 21 March 2007 (UTC)[reply]

The WMF has just put out a press release (see foundation:Wikipedia Invites Users to Take Part in Open, Collaborative Video Experiment) on a project that could finally make collaborative video editing possible. This would be very good news for the video aspect of an ASL Wikipedia, and hopefully for other sign language Wikipedia in future..--Pharos 18:52, 21 January 2008 (UTC)[reply]


Hello, some consensus on the format is needed before the wiki can be approved. Here are some points I've thought of while reading through information; hopefully it will help jump start discussion.

  • Video is a poor format as the primary content for a wiki, since it's not easily editable. However, it would be a very good feature alongside another format, like the spoken text project on en-Wikipedia.
  • HamNoSys is not intended for common use, and is not widely used. HamNoSys text is long and difficult to decipher, and is largely unfinished[3].
  • Stokoe notation is linearly arranged and uses Latin characters, which makes it easy to edit on a wiki. However, it is not widely used and cannot show facial expression, which is critical for American Sign Language. It does not provide for relationship between signs, so it is limited to strings of isolated concepts. Inflection is difficult to notate.
  • SignWriting is widely used. It allows complex sentences (are strings of symbols called sentences?), inflection, and facial expression. However, it is complexly arranged— this is both good (since it is easier to interpret) and bad (since it is difficult to represent in a text box).
  • Using multiple primary formats simultaneously may result in disjointed articles, multiple communities, conflicting policies, disputes, and general difficulty.

Based on these points, I think the best format choice would be SignWriting (if a way can be found to edit it easily) with secondary video representations. —{admin} Pathoschild 23:32:10, 08 April 2007 (UTC)

    • You certainly make a good point that we need to have an agreement as to how to have an ASL Wikipedia. I have to agree that SignWriting with secondary video representations seems to be the best way. The other options just don't do our language justice. I am sure that SignText (an online SignWriting text editor) could be easily incorporated into the ASL Wikipedia for easy editing. Just my thoughts. --Icemandeaf 07:56, 11 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
  • I don't agree. Sign Writing is only used by an elite. It certainly isn't understood by the average deaf person. My preference would be for the text input method to be plain english, with an automatic video rendering, like what is found at This way articles could be written in sign language grammar English (and edited easily), and would be automatically rendered into sign via the online video archive. Visit to see a simple example of what can be done with individual words and letters of the alphabet. --Foundationexpo88
Talk about elitism. You are proposing to use an Austrian method for American Sign Language .... Really .... As to elitism, there is nothing stopping people to learn about SignWriting and the number of people that use it is growing all the time. GerardM 06:44, 2 August 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Why wouldn't we start with an ASL wiktionary? That would be immensely useful, especially since the use of ASL with young children is becoming more common. There has also been progress on an in-wiki video player [4] -Ravedave 02:55, 11 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I would strongly suggest a SignText version of the Wikipedia in SignWriting which would allow a corpus to grow in ASL and other signed languages. The larger the body of text, the more accurate the translation. Only SignWriting is widely used and has the capacity to include facial expressions and iconic location markers and other linguistic markers for which English has no equivalent (tone of expression, rapidity of sign). [Charles Butler, 06:32 11 April 2007 (EDT)]

ASL Wikipedia Can Be Setup On SignPuddle 1.5 Online Site Immediately[edit]

SignPuddle 1.5 is software for SignWriting that has its roots in wiki-based programming...

It provides a free-online dictionary and text editor (SignText) for SignWriting right now, on the web, where people contribute both dictionary-entries of individual signs, and also longer literature documents, in an online SignPuddle Community...

SignPuddle Online

ASL Dictionary Online in SignPuddle 1.5

ASL Literature Online in SignPuddle 1.5

I strongly suggest that we start a Wikipedia-Puddle for ASL on our SignPuddle 1.5 site, using our current software exactly as it is...This would mean that we could start the ASL translations of Wikipedia articles as early as tomorrow, if we have volunteers to do the writing and permission from Wikimedia of course.

We can also create a separate Dictionary Puddle just for Wikipedia translators, which would provide the Wiktionary you mention above.

To create the ASL documents and dictionaries for Wikipedia, authors would be required to go to our SignPuddle 1.5 site to prepare the documents and dictionary entries. Perhaps they could click on a special link in Wikipedia that would take them to our Wikipedia-Puddle on the SignPuddle 1.5 site, to do the SignWriting data entry...

This way, we could get started immediately without doing any extra programming...we can even upload video connected with the documents on our SignPuddle site, and the Wikipedia site could choose to load those on their site or not, or just link to the Wikipedia-SignPuddle-ASL site on our SignPuddle site.

The Wikimedia group could possibly transfer the documents from our SignPuddle site to the Wikipedia site if they prefer, after they are created on SignPuddle...either way would work is my would be easier to just leave everything on our server...and visitors to Wikipedia could be directed to the ASL Wikipedia on the SignPuddle site...

If Wikimedia wants us to make SignPuddle function directly on the Wikipedia site, that would take special programming changes and we would have to write a grant together, as two 501c3 non-profit organizations, to ask for funds to help pay for the re-programming necessary...that would take a year or two no matter what, because it takes time to write the grants and get the funding and then do the programming...and then start the translations...but i am open on starting the grant writing immediately too..

So I personally vote for us creating a special Wikipedia-SignPuddle on our SignPuddle site soon...perhaps tomorrow...I really mean is that simple.

If you agree, we can setup a special Wikipedia-ASL SignPuddle, and get started immediately.

We will need volunteers to start the writing, because at this moment we have no funding for the project...We are happy to help people learn to use the software and learn SignWriting too. I hope some of the authors will join our SignWriting List to ask technical questions...

Shall we do this? I look forward to your response!

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton

1. SignWriting Read & Write Sign Languages

2. SignBank Create Sign Language Databases

3. SignPuddle Create Sign Language Dictionaries

4. Non-profit Organization Center for Sutton Movement Writing

SignWriting Literature Project The DAC, Deaf Action Committee Center For Sutton Movement Writing an educational nonprofit organization P.O. Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038, USA tel 858-456-0098 fax 858-456-0020 D-Link Videophone: Skype Name: valeriesutton

Hi, Valerie, nice to see you involved here!

I can see several both pros and cons with having a project on SignPuddle, I'll list them here, and then make some comments regarding some of them.

  1. The required software and implementation is already there.
  2. The site probably already has the most active community involved in SignWriting.
  1. It won't be able to use the Wikipedia name, because of trademark issues.
  2. No interwiki links to it from other Wikipedias. Interwiki links are the links to other languages in the left menu on Wikipedia, just FYI.
  3. As Wikipedia is a top 10 website with the attention of media all around the world, the creation of a Wikipedia in ASL could possibly (if the cards are played right) get a lot of media attention, and raise awareness of both ASL as a language independent of English, and possible of the SignWriting used for sign languages. I don't see this happening if the project is hosted on another server, under another name.

As far as I can see, the biggest obstacle of creating an ASL Wikipedia at this point, is how to enable SignWriting. This will require some (perhaps major) changes or additions to the MediaWiki software (probably in form of an extension, but I'm not sure). But it is definately possible, as long as the necessary resources are provided.

However, even if there are several cons to having the project on SignPuddle, I would strongly suggest starting a test project on SignPuddle, in the fashion that other Wikipedia languages have test projects on Incubator. The content of the test project could then be transfered to the Wikipedia, once the technicalities are sorted out.

I will correspond with the rest of the Languages subcommittee about conditionally approving this project (this should have no effect on the test project, however; start the test project ASAP). I will CC the mail to you (Valerie) as well. Jon Harald Søby 14:18, 12 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Sign writing certainly seems like the logical choice; however, I'm not sure why an extension would need to be installed to accomplish this. As I understand it, the Sign Writing symbols are all part of the extended Unicode charset, so displaying Sign Writing should not be a problem at all. The only problem lies in making the inputing of sign writing easy, and I believe this is best accomplished either through some sort of simplistic dictionary system or other look up tool which can be fairly simply implemented using some js (or I suppose it could be done with a php extension as well) to display this dictionary as part of MediaWiki:Edittools at the bottom of the editor pane. Additionally, are their by chance any external tools, such as those that have been developed for the Chinese language, to make typing text in Sign Writing simpler? I'd have to think that there must be, and if this is the case, then ASL users could simply download that application, generate the Sign Writing in unicode using that tool and copy'n'paste it back into the edit pane. Clearly the technical aspects of this have to be worked out some; however, I do hope that Wikimedia will eventually add an ASL wiki (hosted at Wikimedia, not elsewhere) to their extensive collection of wikis, as this is a very important and oft-neglected culture who could certainly use an encyclopedia in their own language. AmiDaniel 20:07, 23 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
According to Valerie Sutton, SignWriting has been assigned 256 spaces in UTF-8. However, this is only enough for the basic representations of each symbol. But SignWriting is not linear, but dependent on the placement of each symbol in a two-dimensional space (as opposed to the one-dimensional space of writing systems like Latin and Arabic). She further says that to be able to fully represent SignWriting in Unicode, it would have to have its own layer. And accomplishing that seems to be a bit into the future, so an extension is the best way to get things started soon-ish. However, a goal is to eventually have the ASL Wikipedia in SignWriting represented with Unicode instead of images. Jon Harald Søby 21:57, 23 April 2007 (UTC)[reply]
No, you can't be assigned spaces in UTF-8. UTF-8 is just one encoding of Unicode. You can be assigned space in Unicode, but SignWriting hasn't been. There's 1024 spaces that have been tenatively redlined for SignWriting, but that means nothing; a final proposal could use more or less, and if they needed the space for something else, Sutton SignWriting would find itself moved to a different part of the code space without hesitation. There's no such thing as layers in Unicode, either.--Prosfilaes 23:10, 3 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

What is the point? The hearing impaired amongst us read english writing, so there would be a splitting of efforts of a signed version of an already existing (and highly prevalent) wikipedia.

The point is that not all the hearing impaired read English. There are hearing impaired all over the world. But as this is the ASL request, the culture, the language is different. We support providing people with knowledge in their language. So from a Language Committee point of view, they are entitled to one. We just do not have the infrastructure at the moment. GerardM 12:53, 15 November 2007 (UTC)[reply]
SignWriting Fonts to be released under the SIL Open Font License soon[edit]

We're been investigating license and copyright issues. We believe that using the Open Font License is the best choice for SignWriting users. We believe releasing the fonts under the OFL will reassure all concerned parties that sign languages are written languages and everyone who wants to write sign languages can write without worry. We believe that SignWriting is compatible with Wikipedia ideals and we're taking steps to prove it. -Steve 19:15 30 May 2007 (UTC)


Now that it has been verified as eligible, has anyone attempted/attempting a test? I don't mean to read rude or anything. I'm just curious about further progress...

An extension will be developed by the SignWriting foundation... Technically we are not able to have an at this stage. GerardM 10:21, 19 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]


In any case, it is very important include captions in videos in Commons (perhaps, also could be added an automatic caption generating engine, as in YouTube) Commons:Category:Commons requests related to video captions. BoldLuis (talk) 01:22, 19 May 2020 (UTC)[reply]