Steve Slevinski


Hi I'm Steve. Sign language user, friend of the deaf, and SignWriting Evangelist.

Sutton SignWriting is a mature system of over 40 years, 60 sign languages, and several generations of writers. The technology development for SignWriting has a long and complex history. When I become involved in 2004, I brought SignWriting to the internet from the world of SignWriter Dos. Over the years, I have incrementally improved the text encoding and the surrounding technology for SignWriting. We are making great progress with a growing user base.

I have worked with Valerie Sutton since 2004. Together we created the Sutton SignWriting Standards of 2010, 2012, and 2017. These standards are stable and freely available.



My involvement with the Wikimedia movement has always focused on SignWriting and the promotion of sign language projects with text.

I have attended two Wikimedia events: one in the Netherlands 2013 and one in California 2016.

SignWriting has an open project on Wikimedia Cloud VPS involving several instances. The main instance is the SignWriting Server that is available at This site is a mirror of the SignPuddle Online dictionaries and provides advanced searching and server side image creation. The SignWriting Server project has been deprecated, but it will be maintained as long as it is required for the sign language Wikipedias on Incubator.

There are currently three sign language Wikipedias: American Sign Language, Tunisian Sign Language Wikipedia, and Brazilian Sign Language. The request for the ASL Wikipeida was marked as eligible in 2008. The request for the Brazilian Sign Language Wikipedia was marked eligible in October 2018 with the comment "Reasonable amount of content."

I have written two grants to the Wikimedia foundation. The first for the creation of a two-dimensional font. The second for Wikipedia education and training in Brazil. The first grant for font development received a good bit of support, even making it into the second round, but was not chosen for funding either time is was submitted. The second grant for training in Brazil was never submitted.

Text Encoding Issues


The Center for Sutton Movement Writing endorses two compatible text encodings for SignWriting, but neither is part of the Unicode standard

In theory, SignWriting should be part of the Unicode standard with a fully developed font. This is not available yet due to technical, political, and financial issues.



In 2012, the text encoding called Formal SignWriting in ASCII (FSW) was released. This text encoding is used for the sign language Wikipedias on Incubator. Each sign is written as a word of ASCII letters. This encoding is semi-human readable, but requires an SVG wrapper to view properly.

Unicode Standard


In 2015, a partial text encoding for SignWriting was added to the Unicode standard. This standard is documented throughout the Wikimedia projects, but it is not used by the SignWriting community.

Experimental Unicode


In 2017, the text encoding called SignWriting in Unicode (SWU) was released. This text encoding is isomorphic with Formal SignWriting in ASCII (FSW). Each sign is written as a word using a design that overwrites the Sutton SignWriting Block (U+1D800 - U+1D9FF) and uses Plane 4 for the Sutton SignWriting symbols. These characters use the Unicode code space, but are not part of the Unicode Standard. This text encoding is human readable with a production ready one-dimensional font. For full readability, an SVG wrapper is still required. For the future, a two-dimensional font has been designed targetting the Universal Shaping Engine. A working two-dimensional font prototype has been available since 2014.



My work has been funded by the Center for Sutton Movement Writing since 2004. Fundraising has always been problematic because we are dealing with an unusual topic for marginalized communities. Starting in 2019, our funding will reach critical levels. I created a Parteon page for supporters to help fund future developments. I am currently 5% towards my goal.

Outside Websites


SignWriting Styled Viewer


To use Formal SignWriting in ASCII (FSW) on meta, you can edit your personal common.js and add the following line:

 importScript( 'User:Slevinski/signwriting_viewer.js' );