Guide to Sutton SignWriting

The Sutton SignWriting project is designed for the internet community and includes TrueType Fonts, Scalar Vector Graphics, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Functions. The Formal SignWriting specification is a faithful encoding of Sutton SignWriting that is documented in an Internet Draft submitted to the IETF.


Sutton SignWriting

Sutton SignWriting is the universal and complete solution for written sign language. It has been applied by a wide and deep international community of sign language users.

Sutton SignWriting is an international standard for writing sign languages by hand or with computers. From education to research, from entertainment to religion, SignWriting has proven useful because people are using it to write signed languages.


Formal SignWriting

Formal SignWriting is one particular computerized design for Sutton SignWriting that envisions a sign as a two part word. Each word is written as a string of characters that can be recognized and processed by regular expressions. The design has been optimized for display, searching, sorting, text flow, and other character processing.

Where as American Sign Language is a natural language, Formal SignWriting is a formal language. A formal language is useful in mathematics, computer science, and linguistics.


Character Sets

Formal SignWriting in ASCII (FSW)

Signs are written as SignWriting words with mathamatical names of ASCII characters from the set: ABLMRS0123456789xabcdef. Stable since January 2012.

SignWriting in Unicode (SWU)

Signs are written as SignWriting words with an experimental Unicode character design. This character set overwrites the Sutton SignWriting Block (U+1D800 - U+1D9FF) and uses Plane 4 for the Sutton SignWriting symbols.


TrueType Fonts

The Sutton SignWriting TrueType fonts are available for download and installation.

Symbol Fonts for SVG

There are two fonts for the Sutton SignWriting symbols that are used in SVG: the Sutton SignWriting Line font as the positive space of the symbol glyphs on Unicode plane 15 and the Sutton SignWriting Fill font as the negative space of the symbol glyphs on Unicode plane 16. These glyphs descend below the baseline.


One Dimensional Font for SignWriting in Unicode

The Sutton SignWriting One-D font is production ready. It uses the SignWriting in Unicode (SWU) experimental characters to visualizes a sign as a 1-dimensional string of glyphs for structural markers, symbols, and numbers. These glyphs are centered above the baseline and are meant to be used in traditionally 1-dimensional situations.


Sutton SgnWriting Null

The Sutton SignWriting Null font provides empty glyphs for invalid symbol codes on Plane 4 and Plane 15. The font is useful to normalize how browsers and software process invalid characters.


SVG Considerations

SVG is used to create the 2-dimensional signs of Sutton SignWriting. The SVG images can be downloaded from the SignWriting Server or created with a JavaScript function. SVG images requested from the SignWriting Server require an internet connection and a separate download for each image. SVG images created with a JavaScript function require TrueType Fonts for display.


JavaScript Libraries

The JavaScript libraries leverage the TrueType fonts without any additional requirements. Simply include the "SuttonSignWriting.js" script or the minified version "SuttonSignWriting.min.js" in any HTML page to access the function library. View the API Reference for example usage.