What is SignWriting?

SignWriting is a writing system which uses visual symbols to represent the handshapes, movements, and facial expressions of sign language.

SignWriting is an alphabet – a set of symbols which can be used to write any sign language. The SignWriting alphabet can be compared to the Latin alphabet (ABC...) that we use to write English. The Latin alphabet is used to write many different spoken languages. While each language may add a few symbols, the same basic symbols used to write English are also used to write Spanish, German, and many others. The Latin alphabet is international, even though the languages it writes are not.

In the same way, the symbols in the SignWriting alphabet are international, and can be used to write American Sign Language, Brazilian Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, Spanish Sign Language, Tunisian Sign Language – any sign language you choose.

SignWriting makes it possible to have books, dictionaries, news, blogs, shopping lists, and Nobel Prize-winning literature, all written in signs. For beginning signers SignWriting can be used to teach signs and sign language grammar, while for skilled signers it can be used to teach subjects such as language, history, and mathematics.

For examples of written sign language see "Literature" in the Library section of this website.

Library > Literature