View on GitHub

Symbol Font for ASL

How can you read and write American Sign Language?

← Previous page: Ways to Write

The Big Question

The question that interests me is this:
How will written sign be used on the internet?

The two systems most likely to become widely used are also pictorially arranged. For readers of ASL, this is a huge benefit. For writers of ASL with an internet audience, this is a challenge.

Ways to get ASL online:

One of the reasons written ASL has not become widely used may be that so many of the needs it would fill are already satisfied by easy access to video. It may not always be convenient, but for most purposes, video works.
Scanners / Cameras
It is easy enough to use paper to write or draw something in ASL, and then post a photograph or scan of it online. One downside of this approach is that it would not be searchable, or editable.
Freehand drawing (mouse or stylus)
Digitally produced drawings are another way to get written ASL online, but this method has the same drawbacks as scanning a physical drawing.
Drag and drop entry system
SignWriting uses this method, but it poses some technical challenges of its own.
Linear text to pictorial arrangement conversion system
It would be possible to design a system where the pictorial representation of a sign is generated by typing in the symbols in a specific order.
Use a non-pictorial writing system
Most existing non-pictorial systems are too complex, and unlikely to become widely used.
Use an English gloss of ASL
Can't be used to learn new signs, and requires the user to know the English "name" of each sign.


During this exciting time, while other forms of writing ASL are growing in popularity, and their digital options are being explored, it may be useful to a few people to have a simple, alternative system that is computer-friendly.

If you think you would find such a system useful, or that it seems like an interesting idea, this project is for you.

Next page: What is in this font?