Submissions:2016/Moving forward with sign language projects in Formal SignWriting

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Moving forward with sign language projects in Formal SignWriting
Technology & Infrastructure
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
Stephen E Slevinski Jr
E-mail address
The Center for Sutton Movement Writing
Written sign language is possible on the web using Formal SignWriting, a mathematical character encoding of Sutton SignWriting that faithfully supports all of the script features. This specification has been documented and stable since January 2012. The standard is used internationally at schools and universities, for projects, within groups, and by individuals.
On the web, Formal SignWriting has been integrated with a variety of standards to simplify the development and integration of Sutton SignWriting. These standards include UTF-8, TrueType fonts, SVG, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, and Regular Expressions. The use of the standards is documented and various components are available under open and free licenses like SIL's Open Font License and the MIT License.
Sutton SignWriting has an open project on Wikimedia Labs involving several instances. The main instance is the SignWriting Server that is available at This site is a mirror of the SignPuddle Online dictionaries and provides advanced searching and server side image creation.
Of primary note, Formal SignWriting is used for the 50+ articles in the ASL Wikipedia and also for the 3 articles of the Tunisian Sign Language Wikipedia, both on Wikimedia Incubator. Several other sign language Wikipedia projects will be starting soon.
Sign languages are human languages. Any topic that can be discussed in a spoken language can be discussed in a signed language. It's important to realize the benefits of a person being able to access information in their primary language. It's exciting to realize that sign language wikipedia projects are now possible with Sutton SignWriting.
As we've seen with Wikipedia itself, there is a snowball effect with these types of projects. More people getting involved, leads to more people getting involved. One of the major factors holding back the widespread acceptance of SignWriting is having enough reading material available to make it worthwhile to learn SignWriting. The sign language wikipedia projects are important for the growth of SignWriting and the positive effects of the sign language wikipedias will benefit all sign language users far beyond just the particular wikipedia projects themselves.
Sign language wikipedia projects are now possible with Formal SignWriting. We encourage sign language users to get involved by learning SignWriting and the MediaWiki software. We encourage technical MediaWiki users of all levels to get involved and help us improve and streamline the technical details. We encourage everyone to imagine a world in which every sign language user can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
Length of presentation
30 minutes
Preferred room size
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  1. Valerie sutton (talk) 15:53, 30 August 2016 (EDT)
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