Thursday, January 10, 2008

A map with a difference

This is a map of the USA. It has been uploaded to Commons and consequently it is now freely licensed. This map has created some excitement because good educational material for the deaf is in short supply. The text that you find on the map is in ASL and the characters are SignWriting.

For American Sign Language a request has been made for a Wikipedia. The language committee of the WMF has so far not approved, nor denied it. We want to approve it; it has an ISO-639-3 code (ase), there are sufficient native speakers supporting the project... It has not been approved yet because it is technically not possible to support ASL in MediaWiki.

Putting ASL and SignWriting on the map in a Wikipedia of its own is really important. It will not only make a difference for the people who do ASL, it will also signal to people in other countries, speaking other sign languages that writing in their own language is something that can be done. This will make a real difference in the emancipation of sign languages.

It is for this reason that I am thrilled that Valerie Sutton wrote that they will be looking into the possibility of an extension to MediaWiki to make it possible and have a Wikipedia.

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