SignBank 2004
stores the International Movement Writing Alphabet, making it possible to write 100's of Sign Languages

SignBank History
1988, 2002, 2004

Two Macintosh Desk Accessories from the 1980's, were re-programmed in FileMaker Pro, becoming SignBank 2002...

SignBank 2002 was a rebirth of an old computer program. The original SignBank was a package with two Macintosh Desk Accessories, called SignBank 1 & SignBank 2. Developed by Valerie Sutton and programmer Michael Ogawa in the late-1980’s, the SignBank 1 and 2 Desk Accessories worked together to publish bilingual dictionaries.

SignBank 1 sorted dictionaries by spoken languages, called a Word-to-Sign dictionary.

SignBank 2 sorted dictionaries by signed languages, called a Sign-to-Word dictionary.

The sequence of the English alphabet is called alphabetical order. Spoken language dictionaries are sorted by alphabetical order.

The sequence of SignWriting symbols is called the Sign-Symbol-Sequence (SSS). Sign Language dictionaries are sorted by the SSS.

So the SSS is to sign languages, what alphabetical order is to spoken languages!

SignBank in the 1980's was the first publishing tool for bilingual dictionaries between signed and spoken languages.

In the 1990’s, modern operating systems rendered the old SignBank “out-of-date”. The program lay dormant for over a decade. With the release of SignBank 2002, SignBank was re-born, given a modern face-lift, as a FileMaker Pro database.

Continued next page...

What is the International Movement Writing Alphabet (the IMWA)?...

The IMWA is equivalent to the International Phonetic Alphabet, the IPA, for spoken languages, but writes movement instead of sound. The IMWA is like a large storage closet for all the symbols used in hundreds of signed languages around the world. Each language actually uses a smaller symbolset. No language uses all the symbols in the IMWA! But for new languages being written for the first time in history, the IMWA is an excellent resource for searching for the symbols that are needed to write. Later, smaller symbolsets can be established for each written Sign Language.




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Webmaster: Valerie Sutton