Written Sign Language/ASL!

The thing I grieve most about having injured my good hand is losing much of my ability to communicate with my fingers — be that through typing, writing, or fingerspelling. (Even when I had full use of my right hand, trying to learn ASL one handed in a class full of two-handed people was incredibly awkward and I fell behind quickly. I used the ASL Browser to catch up, but all the same found myself spelling and abbreviating almost everything, because nobody understood much. This vlog by Carl Schroeder might give you some idea.) I’m grateful for being able to use speech recognition, but sometimes my thinking just won’t go that way.However, this morning I went browsing for fingerspelling fonts and came across the site for Sign Writing, part of Sutton Movement Writing. This is a system for transcribing ASL largely via computer, but can be hand drawn as well. It reminds me slightly of the diagrams in sign language dictionaries, but is a lot more cryptic at first because it uses geometric shapes to represent the face and hands rather than a sketch of the hands themselves. This, I think, I could learn. I wouldn’t need two good hands, or even full use of one.

If I understand correctly, I can input the symbols however I want — on-screen keyboard/virtual mouse, my keyboard, my voice — anything the computer itself uses for input. This will probably take some time to learn too, but at least it stands still long enough for me to understand it! Granted it’s not much for face-to-face communication, and I’ll probably be writing more pidgin than grammatical ASL, but considering I want it for the sake of my own thought process more than anything else, that is a very small quibble. This is awesome. Again the computer saves my arse…

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