I have a need to write ASL down on paper. This web site is about my form of written American Sign Language - which I have made for my personal use. I use it to write down sentences and stories for practice. I am also compiling a concordance of ASL words to compare how they are used in different contexts.
It started when I wanted to look up the meaning of an ASL word that I saw on a DVD. I could tell that the speaker used two hands, both S handshapes, the right-hand touching up to the bottom of the left hand. I eventually got a hold of someone who knows ASL. They told me the word meant "support." I felt like it should have been easier to get an answer. It would have been easiest if the DVD had closed captioning in ASL writing that I could look up in an ASL-to-English dictionary.
I call my writing system American Sign Language Sign Jotting, or ASLSJ. If all the aspects of an ASL word were written down completely using symbols, each word would be very long. Jotting means "to write down briefly or hastily." ASLSJ focuses on the patterns that make ASL words recognizable. This makes the simpler words short, but allows for longer words with more complex meaning.
ASLSJ is able to be written using the printed alphabet, cursive, a computer or cell-phone keyboard, or even Brialle. Therefore there is no need for customized symbols or special computer codes to start using it. It is my hope that ASLSJ will help more people to understand the world of communication that sign languages have opened.