ASLwrite provides free, public domain information about written American Sign Language.
Throughout the long history of American Sign Language, there have been many efforts to create a written version. Other methods include Stokoe Notation, HamNoSys, SignFont, ASLphabet, SignScript, and Sutton Signwriting.
The ASLwrite website was originally established in 2011 as the American Sign Language Writing Dictionary, a joint project by Adrean Clark and Julia Dameron, which promoted an early version of Si5s. After publication of the book How to Write American Sign Language, Robert Arnold decided to pursue a private path for Si5s with ASLized. The ASLwrite community continued to develop a community-oriented version of written ASL.
Today, the ASLwrite community is committed to keeping written ASL freely available in the public domain by providing resources for writers of all ages. We believe that written ASL will be changed through regular usage by ASL speakers, and support individual adaptation of the language by the signing community. This website serves as a continuing record of written ASL’s development.
Why does American Sign Language need a written form? Don’t we already have technology that can record ASL?
The same question could be asked of written English! It is needed for the same reason why you are reading this sentence — the ability to think and converse in one’s own language at any pace.
Even with today’s technology, filming and viewing ASL requires special technology. Writing is an ancient technology that survived centuries of testing. It can be put on any surface with a minimum of material!
For more information, see the Why Write American Sign Language? post.
What is the difference between ASLwrite and Si5s?
Long story short, the “early Si5s” tree split into two branches: the open source ASLwrite branch featured on this website, and another, monitored branch with a different digibet that carries the “official” Si5s name. The community-given name ASLwrite is intended to help identify which particular source it comes from, but for all intents and purposes it is written ASL.
Who owns the rights to written ASL?
Written ASL belongs to the signing community! For that reason the methods and version of written ASL shared on this website is in the public domain. Anyone is free to write in or create handbooks on written ASL, even in the method offered by ASLwrite!
The only thing from ASLwrite not in the public domain is specific creative content created by contributors, such as artwork and written statements. Please request permission from the writers and artists before reposting.
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