As a Rochester Institute of Technology photography student in 1972, I was fascinated by the visual aspects of fingerspelling and the challenge of representing the handshapes in symbolic graphical form.

I proposed an independent study project to develop a symbol set in the style of graphic international signage introduced in Europe.



Pen & ink drawn letter ‘Y’ handshape 1973

The intent was not to design a teaching aid. Instead, the symbols would be simplified as a single solid color.
Using a ‘Rapidograph™’ pen and stencils I drew and refined each letter handshape .

Original poster

Original poster

NTID students created this.

With the help of NTID professsors Jack Slutzky and Michael Kleper, the final set of symbols became a unified alphabet. The 1973 version was photographed using high contrast film and silk screen printed. Copies were sold at RIT and Gallaudet University bookstores.

Drawn in GLYPHS typepography program. Letter M

In 2000 I refined the designs using Adobe Illustrator. Fifteen years later I used GLYPHS software to create standardized digital typeface . Now it is possible to fluidly type with ASL Manutype™.

In 2015 ASL Manutype™ was accepted into the prestigious Vignelli Center for Design Studies permanent collection.

 Peter A Blacksberg 2019

In Memoriam:
When I visited Jack Slutzky at his studio nearly 35 years after graduation he proudly brought me to his studio. “I want you to see something. Look at this…”
On the wall was the 1973 version of the poster. What an honor.
Jack Slutzky 1938-2016