1999 Conference Proceedings

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Esther Zawolkow and David Zawolkow
Modern Signs Press, Inc.
Los Alamitos, California
email - modsigns@aol.com

Who will want to use this program?

This is not just another CD ROM that is a computer copy of a book. It provides for ease of movement from sign to sign and the ability to print individual signs, groups of signs, and sign sentences in any of several sizes. Anyone who has worked in deaf education knows about the cutting, pasting, and copying time that goes along with that work. This CD ROM makes all that pretty simple. After several developmental attempts, there is finally available an electronic tool that can be used to both teach and learn sign Signing Exact English.

The intent here is to both describe and demonstrate the various sections and capabilities of the program.

First, there is the introductory information. Some of this is history that describes the early situation in deaf education as it moved from strict oralism to the point where there is some recognition of the need to open all avenues of communication. Some include important information about the basics of the sign system. Here are the headings for these and a brief description of each.

Principles of SEE - The nine principles used to form the foundation of the system are listed and described. To properly use the system, recognition and understanding of these is critical.

Development of Additional Signs - In any sign language application, there is a need to sometimes create signs where none previously existed. This area provides guides for the creator.

Points to Remember - This is more fully titled "Points to Remember for Clear Expressive Signing." The information is vital to the recognition that real communication is more than just the formation of hand shapes.

Explanation of the Text - Here the various symbols used in and along with the illustrations are described. The concepts of compound and complex words, as well as families and alternates are demonstrated.

The next two sections, Basic Hand Shapes and Selected References are pretty well self explanatory.

Now we get to one of the real functional parts of the program, the Dictionary. This is where all 4500+ illustrations and descriptions are available. There are several ways to choose a sign to view. The scroll bar on the right can be dragged to move progressively through the signs, stopping near or at the desired sign. The "up" and "down" arrows are used to move in single increments. Or, just enter the word being sought in the "Search for" window, click "Find Exact", and go directly to your choice. In all of these, as it now stands, the total available sign population includes all those in the dictionary. There can be reasons for limiting that. Suppose a teacher wants to have a class review (or wants to send home to parents) just a group of signs like "Foods", or even more specifically "Fruits." Just go to the "Group" area, click and hold and drag down to the "Fruits." Then, the only available signs will be in that group, starting with Apple. Now comes another really useful part of the program - Printing. The "Print" button will allow printing in any of several sizes with the capability of printing a single sign or a group of signs. The printing can include the illustration, the word, and the description or any combination of those.

The next major section of the program is called "Practice." This provides video clips to help people more effectively communicate with signs. There are three major portions. The first is Visual Features of Signed Languages. It includes demonstrations of items including Modification, Emphasis, Placement, and other aspects of these common visual features.

In the Other Sign Production Points to Remember area, there are video demonstrations of the proper use of affixes, compound and complex words, and tenses.

The third section, Suggestions for Signing Creatively demonstrates the creative recognition needed to communicate maintaining the basic principles of Signing Exact English.

The last part of this section is a Quiz to help each user recognize his understanding of the material covered.

Now to the last area. This is the one that is probably most sought after. It is called "Transcriber." Here is the place to enter text in any order for any purpose, choose the final printed size, and hit the "print" button. This is where all the time spent cutting, pasting, and copying will be eliminated.

With this brief exposure, hopefully you can recognize that teachers, students, parents, or anyone can compose words with the affixes used in S.E.E. or any English based system (for example; happy+ier=happier, happy+ness=happiness, un+happy=unhappy), and display and print them. With the S.E.E. system a vocabulary of over 38,000 words is available.

This is a really useful CD ROM! No other sign language CD ROM offers the capabilities available with this one.

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Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.