Electronic Signatures: Saving Children From the Burden of Cursive

Mary Ellen Power, May 2, 2014

Many people can think back to their elementary school years and remember the tedium that went with learning cursive handwriting. The notion was fairly simple - cursive writing is more formal than manuscript, or print, text. This makes cursive the de facto writing format for signatures, but the formalized script type is beginning to disappear. A recent report from PBS explained that many schools are beginning to remove cursive writing from their curriculums, and some experts believe this is a good step forward as electronic signatures and other alternative signing methods make a cursive signature unnecessary.

Cursive: Dying art form or unnecessary burden on school-age children?

There is a philosophical debate at the center of the cursive issues. Some states and schools systems believe that an increased focus on technology-related education, working on computers and meeting high standards through various assessment formats is a more important component of education than teaching the art of cursive. Other school systems and states think that students who are unable to write in cursive will lack certain life skills, the news source explained.

This divide exists among non-education industry experts as well, with some thinking that young adults who are unable to write in cursive are poorly positioned for some of their life responsibilities. One banking expert explained that many young people come to set up their accounts and perform other basic tasks and do not have a consistent cursive signature. However, there are also experts that believe e-signature technology and other solutions have become so easy to use and pervasive that traditional cursive signing methods are unnecessary.

Steve Graham, a Professor of Education at Arizona State University and expert in handwriting, told the PBS that alternative signature methods are a viable option in the vast majority of situations.

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"You can write your name out in manuscript, that's fine, it doesn't have to be a signature," Graham told the news source. "We now have electronic signatures. We don't use the signature in the same way that we did 20, 30, 50, 100 years ago. This really isn't an impediment in terms of thinking about putting your (John Hancock) on something."

The world is changing - be ready for e-signatures

Many school systems are realizing that they can move to more contemporary teaching models if they forgo legacy educational methods, like mandatory cursive lessons, and focus on current requirements. Wherever you may fall on the cursive issue, it is easy to acknowledge that there is value in identifying unnecessary functions and eliminating them. The question for schools is clear, but this also applies to businesses.

Many organizations find that their day-to-day processes get mired in inefficiencies because their signature processes are not up to the task of supporting contemporary operations. Many professionals are turning to smartphones, tablets and other advanced technologies to get the job done. The result is an environment in which having to set aside fast, efficient technologies to mail, fill out and sign forms with pen and paper is an annoying distraction from other operations.

E-signatures provide an easy alternative to these problems and electronic signature law makes the process technology a completely legitimate option for organizations in just about any sector. Government agencies, financial services firms and other companies in highly-regulated industries can successfully implement e-signatures to get their signing and records management operations up to date. 

Large amounts of paperwork, traditional mailing practices, paper record storage and other legacy operations regarding contracts, agreements and official forms no longer work well with other aspects of business operations. The world is going electronic, and many organizations are realizing that it is time to implement new signature practices.

Companies considering a switch to electronic signatures should check out our beginner's guide to the technology.