As photography student in 1972, I was fascinated by the visual aspects of fingerspelling and the challenge of representing these handshapes as symbolic graphical forms.

I proposed an independent study project to developing a typeface along the lines of graphic international signage as I had seen in Europe.

Pen & ink drawn letter ‘Y’ handshape 1973

From the start, it was not my intent to design a teaching aid. Rather the resulting typeface would be unique glyphs which could be simplified as a single solid color. Using a ‘Rapidograph™’ pen and stencils I drew and refined each letter.

Original poster

Original poster

NTID students created this.

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

Drawn in GLYPHS typepography program. Letter A

In 2000 I refined the typeface 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™ Black.

In 2015 ASL Manutype™ Black 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.
May his memory be a blessing. Jack Slutzky 1938-2016