Friday, May 02, 2008

Beta release of the SignWriting Image Server

On the list of requested new languages, American Sign Language has been featuring for a long time. It is still on the discussion stage. The reason is that MediaWiki cannot show the necessary SignWriting script. So when we can use SignWriting in MediaWiki we can really start the process of starting our first Wikipedia in a sign language.

Today I received the announcement that the SignWriting Image Server (SWIS) has been given its beta release. It comes with the International SignWriting Alphabet (ISWA) 2008 set of symbols that currently defines 30 SymbolGroups, 600 BaseSymbols, and 33563 symbols.

One of the absolutely wonderful things to notice is how much the people from the SignWriting foundation picked up on the need of standards and licenses. The software is GPL3, the documentation is CC-by-sa and, the fonts are licensed under the Open Font License. To top it off, the plan is to write an Internet draft for the ISWA 2008 and make it an official character set.

The next phase is to update SignPuddle, the software to create content in SignWriting, for use of the ISWA 2008 and then an open source SignText plugin and finally a MediaWiki extension at the end of the Summer.

I am amazed about the volume of work that Valerie Sutton and Steve Slevinski put in to make their dream come true. Sign languages written for real human beings. I am so happy seeing that it is comming together ..
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