Video “Power of Media for the Deaf”

This is a very old post (2006), written by Sven Noben, founder of Signfuse. Several data (and links) in this article may be outdated.

This coverage has been the very first product I made for SignFuse. This video is a research on what Media and New Media means for sign language users.

It turns out New Media is extremely important to share information in a visual language.

For this coverage I have also proudly been rewarded with Gold on the Finnish Culture days for the Deaf.

Language: Finnish Sign Language and Flemish Sign Language, English subtitles.
Length: 07’17”


Video 50 years of Finnish deaf culture days

This is a very old post (2006), written by Sven Noben, founder of Signfuse. Several data (and links) in this article may be outdated.

The Finnish Deaf people had something to celebrate.
Exactly 50 years ago, the Culture Days were established. It has been a very popular event up to date.
3 days filled with Deaf culture, performed by Deaf people, in a rally to win the first prize.

For this intense event, I was asked to create a movie for the opening ceremony of the 50th Culture Days.

For me this was a huge honour, for a country with such a rich and proud Deaf history. No, I definitely didn’t have to think this over again.

Loaded with a huge bag of video archives (approx. 30 hours of video) in one hand and just one tiny Mini-DV tape in the other, I rushed to my video editing computer.

The Mini-DV tape contained the speech, performed by interpreter Markus Aro.

While I was browsing the huge archive, full of tape, recorded during previous Culture Days, I edited the speech, carried out by my friend Markus Aro.

As I didn’t want the interpreter to be in front of the video, but rather be the voice of the video, I cut away his body to just leave his hands and face.

Now that the movie had a head and hands, I just had to add the best parts of the archive.

Oops, there, a conflict!
I could not combine the signed speech with the archive images. Two moving images at the same time would be very confusing…
For a hearing audience, both an off-screen voice and a moving image can be blended together, with absolutely no conflict at all.
This seemed impossible to achieve for a Deaf audience… I have to admit it, I felt very jealous towards the hearing audience that they didn’t have this limitation.

So, the movie had to – no alternative available – alternate between moving pictures (archive) and signed speech. Anyway to make the alternations more exciting I have added hot flames for the transitions (see picture).

The choice of flames was related to the symbol of the culture days; a burning torch, but it was a question whether elder people would survive the trendy and young movie with spicy flames…
It were them to be honoured, with 50 years of Deaf Culture days written into their collective memory.

The Culture Days became a success with 1500 visitors, and so did this movie.

Fortunately many elder people expressed their joy of watching it.

SignFuse created the opening film for the Finnish Deaf Culture Days in Helsinki, 2006. In this 6 minute video, Markus Aro takes you on a journey back to 1956, when the first Culture Days were organized in Finland. A spicy mixture of new and old film illustrate the evolution in 50 years of tradition. The video was created for Kuurojen Liitto.

Unfortunately this video is not available. It is property of Kuurojen Liitto, the Finnish Deaf Association.


International Manual Alphabet??

This is a very old post (2006), written by Sven Noben, founder of Signfuse. Several data (and links) in this article may be outdated.

Source: Technische Universität Wien

I have been asked by Helga Stevens to design a card for an international manual alphabet. But, wait… Is there anything like an International manual alphabet??

Many countries have very specific manual signs. Then I am not even talking about Japanese manual alphabets, Arabic or Russian ones…

I suppose most Deaf people know that many alphabets in the EU look very similar, even the American one. They tend to use the “international” alphabet.
They call it international, because Sweden, Portugal, Brittain and maybe even more countries in the EU are using a very different one. (the portuguese alphabet is related to the Swedish one)

But let’s narrow down again! Let’s be very egocentric, and cut those three countries off and let’s forget East Europe for 1 minute.
Now most countries have similar “A”‘s “B”‘s and “C”‘s, but what about the “T”, the “H” and the “P”?

Scandinavia has it’s own “international” manual alphabet, international means there they can use it between Nordic countries. (You find the international scandinavian alphabet on top of this page).

Central Europe has a very different “T” and “P”, in both their local as in their “international” manual alphabet.
France and relatives have even a very different “H”.

The “T” seems to be the most variating manual sign, as there is

    • the French version (open hand, thumb behind index)
    • the Belgian version (closed hand, index around thumb)
    • the Scandinavian version (closed hand, thumb above stretched index)
    • the American version (closed fist, thumb behind index)

And then there’s even this difference of “mainfinger”. The more south you go, the more often the thumb is used, also to spell “W” or “1”.
And the more north, the more the index finger becomes the maincharacter…

So, what do you think, is there something like an international alphabet in europe? And no, we should certainly not forget about East-Europe.

And, “International”, what does it mean?
Does it mean international relationships like in scandinavia, or does it mean the whole world?
Could an international manual alphabet ever exist?

Thank you for commenting this topic with your thoughts!

Website dfce 4

This is a very old post (2006), written by Sven Noben, founder of Signfuse. Several data (and links) in this article may be outdated.

Creating the website for DFCE 4 has been a real challenge and it was pure fun.

DFCE is an acronym for Deaf Free Camp Europe. It was founded by two Dutch people, Pepe Visscher and Maarten Vreugdenhil. The first summercamp was organized by them in Luxembourg, in 2003.

This year DFCE was up to it’s 4th edition, and me and my friend Carolien Doggen took the organization upon us.
We also had 7 great volunteers helping us around during the camp in Belgium.
It was a truly unforgettable experience.

But, back to the website of DFCE 4, we needed to spread the information about the camp among our international Deaf friends.
The traditional way of doing this in English didn’t seem us too fair.
We couldn’t expect them to understand English clearly, so we opted for a harder but challenging road; create the website purely in International Sign.

I was of course very interested in doing this, as I am studying New Media at the moment, and Sign Language was my core target to research in New Media.

We realized however that not all Deaf people are as good in International Sign and wanted to offer them a possibility to join in as well. Therefore we decided to subtitle everything in English. Hmmm yea, English…

In fact, this way, the DFCE website became one of the first websites, together with the SignFuse website, to be completely built in a sign language. Even better, it became the first website ever that offered accessibility for non-signing people. (No accessibility for the blind or deafblind though… Maybe next time.)

What a contradiction, websites used to be made accessible for the disabled, but now the website is made accessible for the non-disabled. Isn’t that powerful?
It made us feel much stronger, we were no longer the disabled, but the non-signers were.

Many other Deaf people got the same overwhelming feeling:

"I'm very suprised about the website of DFCE4."
"It's the best site that I've ever saw in Belgium. WOW" 
"This site is brilliant!!!"
"This website is fantastic!" 
"we are very surprised about your website"
"really super-website... wow!"
"Waauw. The website is fantastic and new."
"The website is wonderful!"
"This is really a super cool site!!! It's relaxed to enjoy this site in our own 'visual language'!!"
"Wow ! Congratulations for your excellent website ! A really good job, all visual... !"
"very cool theme in website with full informations in unbelievable sign language"
"Really is the website of DFCE very beautiful!!"
"This is really a wicked idea! Great website"

And we were so overwhelmed by their positive comments.

The movies? We just filmed them at a friends apartment that accidentally had a blue-tone painted wall. We pointed some simple desktop lights at us and signed the information right away.
The background images were grabbed at Flickr (licensed under creative commons) and everything was combined in Adobe Flash 7.

See? You don’t need a professional studio to do that. One can do it just at home!

And the camp? It has been a success 🙂