History of the deaf


The story of the deaf records the historical events of the deaf as a group that has a language, an identity and a culture.
Throughout the ages, the deaf fought major battles for the affirmation of their identity, the deaf community, their língua1 and their .2 culture until they reach the recognition they have today, in the modern era.
History of the deaf

To the middle ages

In Egypt, the deaf were worshipped as if they were gods, served as mediators between the gods and Pharaohs, being feared and respected by the population.
At the time of the Hebrew people, in Hebrew Law, appear for the first time, references to the deaf.

In ancient times the Chinese launched us into the sea, the Gauls sacrificed to gods Teutates, in Sparta were launched from the top of the rocks. In Greece, the deaf were regarded as incompetent beings. Aristotle taught that the .3 that were born deaf, by their language, were not able to reason. This belief, common at the time, made in Greece, deaf people don't receive secular education had not rights, were marginalized (along with the mentally handicapped and the sick) and that often were sentenced to death. However, in 360 BC, Socrates said it was acceptable for the deaf communicate with the hands and the body. Seneca said:
Cquote1.svg kill dogs when they're angry; wipe out-if taken from bulls; cut the heads of sheep sick so that the others are not contaminated; kill the fetuses and newborns monstrous; If defective and monstrous, born drown them, not because of the hatred, but to reason, to distinguish the useless stuff of healthy.
The Romans, influenced by Greek people, had similar ideas about the Deaf, seeing him as being imperfect, without the right to belong to society, according to Lucretius and Pliny. It was common to launch their deaf children (especially the poor) to the Tiber River, to be cared for by the Nymphs. The Emperor Justinian in 529 BC, he created a law that hindered the deaf to conclude contracts, drafting wills and even to own property or claim inheritances (with the exception of the deaf who spoke).

In Constantinople, the rules for the deaf were basically the same. However, there the deaf were some tasks, such as cutting service, like pages of women, or as fools, the Sultan's entertainment.
Later, Saint Augustine advocated the idea that Deaf children's parents were paying for some sin he had committed. Believed that the deaf could communicate through gestures, speech in the equivalence, were accepted as the salvation of the soul.
Christians, until the middle ages, believed that deaf people, unlike the listeners, did not possess an immortal soul, since they were unable to deliver the sacraments.
John Beverley, in 700 a.d., he taught a deaf to speak, for the first time (on record). For that reason, he was considered by many as the first educator of the deaf.
It is only here, at the end of the middle ages and early Renaissance, we left the religious perspective to the prospect of reason, in which the disability shall be considered under medical and scientific optics.

Until the modern age

Was in the modern age who distinguished himself for the first time, the deafness muteness. The expression a deaf-mute, it stopped being the designation of the Deaf.

Pedro Ponce de León
Pedro Ponce de León, a Catholic monk of the order of the Benedictines, initiates, worldwide, the history of the deaf, as we know it today. in addition to found a school for the deaf, in Madrid, he devoted much of his life to teaching the deaf children of noble people, noble ones who willingly you charge the children, so they could have privileges under the law (sothe general concern on educating the deaf, at the time, it was only economic). Leon developed a manual alphabet, which helped the Deaf to spell the words (there are those who defend the idea that this was based on the manual alphabet gestures created by monks, who communicated with each other in this way by the fact that they have made a vow of silence).
This time it was the custom that children who received this kind of education and treatment were daughters of people who had a good economic situation. The others were placed in nursing homes with people of diverse origins and problems, it is not believed that they could develop on the basis of their "abnormality". 5
Juan Pablo Bonet, building on the work started by León, was the deaf scholar and his educator. Wrote about ways to teach the deaf to read and speak, through the manual alphabet. Bonet forbade the use of sign language, choosing the oral method.
John Bulwer, English doctor, believed that sign language should have a prominent place in education for the deaf; He was the first to develop a method to communicate with the deaf. He published several books, which enhance the use of gestures.
John Wallis (1616-1703), Deaf educator and scholar of deafness after attempted to teach various Deaf to speak, gave up this teaching method, devoting himself more to the teaching of writing. Used gestures, in its teaching. George Dalgarno has developed an innovative system of Fingerspelling. Konrah Amman, defender of lip reading, since it considered that the speech was a gift from God that the person be human (not considered the deaf who couldn't speak like humans). Amman had no use of sign language, the gestures atrofiavam the mind, although used as a teaching method to achieve the orality.

Charles Michel de L ' Épée, born in 1712, taught, as a first step, the deaf, for religious reasons. Many consider sign language creator. Although we know that it already existed before him, L ' Épée acknowledged that the language really existed and that developed (though not considered a language with grammar). His main contributions were:
creation of the National Institute for deaf-mutes in Paris (first school for the deaf in the world);
recognition of the Deaf as a human being, for recognizing your tongue;
adoption of the method of legal education;
recognition that teaching the deaf to speak would be a waste of time, before you should teach her sign language.

Jacob Rodrigues Pereira, educator of the deaf who wore gestures but has always advocated the oralização of the deaf. Never published any of his studies. Thomas Braidwood, founded a school for the deaf in Edinburgh (the first school of speech correction of Europe). Samuel Heinicke, taught several deaf people talking, creating and defining the method now known as Oralism.

To the Contemporary Age

After the French Revolution and during the Industrial Revolution, entered an era of dispute between the oralistas methods and those based on sign language. Roch-Ambroise Cucurron Sicard was a French Abbot, famous for his work as an educator of the deaf; Sicard founded the Bordeaux school for the deaf, in 1782, subsequently succeeded L ' Épée, as director of the Institute created by the same, also supported the creation of several deaf institutes across the country. Pierre Desloges, French,

As the French see their biased language by a German who only knows a few words of the French language, I think I must defend my language against the false accusations of this author.
Desloges, in his book, defends the idea that the sign language (Old French sign language) already existed, even before the appearance of the first deaf schools, such as creation of the deaf and their natural language.
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
Jean Itard, first doctor to care for the study of deafness and hearing impairments, used the following methods in their research: electrical charges, bleeding, perforation of eardrums, among others.
Jean Massieu was one of the first teachers of the deaf world. Laurent Clerc, a French educator, deaf, accompanied Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, educator listener, the United States, where they opened a school for the deaf, in April 1817, the Hartford school. Gallaudet established this school American sign language, was still its used the English writing and the manual alphabet. In 1830, when Gallaudet retired, already existed in the United States about 30 schools for the deaf.
Main article: Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
Edward Miner Gallaudet, son of Thomas Gallaudet and also educator of the deaf, fought for the upliftment of the Statute of the Office of the Columbia College. This school has given rise, in 1857, to Gallaudet University, where is President for 40 years.
In the meantime, Alexander Graham Bell, American scientist, worked on oralização of the deaf. Married a deaf girl, Mabel. Bell was a big supporter of oralism and opposed sign language and deaf communities, once regarded as a danger against society. Accordingly, Bell argued that the deaf should not marry among themselves and should mandatorily attend normal schools, regular. However, in 1887 Bell, at the Congress of Milan, admitted that the deaf should be oralizados for a year, but if that doesn't work, then they could be exposed to sign language. 7 This struggle between oralism and sign language continues to the present day. 8

Helen Keller
In 1880, Helen Keller was born in the United States. Helen has gone blind and deaf at 19 months of age, because of an illness. At the age of 7 years, Helen had created about 60 gestures (signs) to communicate with their families. Anne Sullivan, Helen's teacher, isolated from the rest of the family, thus to discipline and teach Helen. Sullivan teaches Helen using the Tadona method, which consists of touching the lips and throat of the person who speaks, and this combined with Fingerspelling in the Palm of your hand. Helen learned to read English, French, German, Greek and Latin, via Braille. The 24-year-old graduated in Radcliffe. Was a suffragette, a pacifist and supporter of planned parenthood. He founded the Helen Keller International, an organization for the prevention of blindness. He published many books and has been awarded by Lydon b. Johnson, with the Presidential Medal od Freedoms.


When Sicard died, the National Institute for deaf-mutes in Paris began a troubled period. In addition to successive Directors who never managed to establish a strong leadership, the institutional issues were treated as family matters and the Institute began to lose credit. As throughout the history of the deaf, this time the fight between supporters of oralism and manualism and oralism continued, inside and outside the Institute.
Bébian founded a private school for the deaf in Paris, where he wore his defended oral method, being forbidden to students of the National Institute to contact with Bébian, both within and outside of the Institute.
In 1829 the Institute had only two Deaf teachers and only male students took advantage of their classes; There were no deaf people on board, in the colsultivo Council, in vocational training, not even among the monitors. By being aware of these problems, some teachers have joined in an attempt to change the course of the situation and then two ideological fronts, on the other hand supporters of the oral method, on the other hand proponents of oralism.
At the end of 1830 there was a great movement of deaf people, that messed with the Foundation of the Institute. Ferdinad Berthier, leader of a delegation of the deaf, wrote to King Louis-Philippe of France, asking for the re-admission of Bébian toward the Institute-which shocked so the administration of the Institute that only increased the fights and disagreements of people oralistas and gestualistas, which went on break.
At this time, almost all schools of the deaf in France wore Bébian methods in education of the deaf and criticized the positions of the Institute.
In 1834, a Committee of ten members who are deaf led by Berthier hosted a banquet in honor of the Abbé de L ' Épée, this feast that became an annual event, used by the Deaf as a forum to advertise your ideas and requirements. Thus was born the Deaf Movement, at a time when Deaf people Mute-the first Association of the deaf in the world.
Congress of Milan

Alexander Graham Bell
Before the Congress, in Europe, during the 18th century, arose two distinct trends in the education of the deaf: the oralism (or French method) and the spoken (or German method). The vast majority of deaf defended the oralism while only listeners supported the oralism-for example Bell, USA, was campaigning in favour of this method, among many other teachers, doctors, etc.
Main article: Alexander Graham Bell
In 1872, at the Congress of Venice, it was decided the following:
The half-human to the communication of thought is the oral language;
If instructed, the deaf can read lips and speak;
The oral language has advantages for the development of the intellect, of morality and of Linguistics
The Congress of Milan in 1880, was a dark moment in the history of the deaf, one that a group of listeners, took the decision to delete the sign language of the deaf education, replacing it by the oralism (the Congressional Committee was solely consisting of listeners.).9 Consequently, oralism was the preferred technique in deaf education during the late 19th century and much of the 20TH century.
The Congress lasted 3 days, in which 8 resolutions were voted, with only one (the third) was adopted unanimously. The resolutions are:
The use of spoken language in teaching and education of the deaf, should prefer to sign language;
The use of sign language in parallel with the oral language, deaf education, affects speech, lip reading and clarity of concepts, so the tongue articulate pure should be preferred;
Governments should take measures to ensure that all deaf people to receive education;
The most appropriate method for the deaf appropriating of speech is the intuitive method (first speech after writing); the grammar should be taught through practical examples, with the greatest clarity possible; must be made available to the deaf books with words and forms of language known by the deaf;
Educators of the deaf, the oral method, should apply in the elaboration of specific works of this matter;
The deaf, after finished your oral education, have not forgotten the knowledge acquired and should therefore use the oral language in conversation with people, since the speakers talk develops with practice;
The most favourable age for admitting a deaf child in school is between 8-10 years, being that the child should remain at school a minimum of 7-8 years; No educator of the deaf must have more than 10 students simultaneously;
In order to implement, as a matter of urgency, the oral method, should be assembled the newly admitted deaf children in schools, where they should be educated through speech; These same children should be separated from the more advanced children who had previously received sign education, so that they were not contaminated; the old students should also be taught according to this new oral system. 10
A decade after the Congress of Milan, it was believed that the teaching of sign language almost disappeared from schools across Europe, and oralism were spreading to other continents.

During the 20th century

As a result of developments in the fields of technology and science in the 20th century, particularly in the field of deafness, deaf education came to be dominated by the oralism (which face deafness as something that can be fixed). However, without curing the surdez11 the duds of oralism began to be evidenced, as deaf people educated in the method helped them to get a job, communicate with unknown listeners or keep a conversation flowing. 12

Illustration of the interior of a cochlear implant.
In the meantime, comes the first hearing aid, in 1898.13 in antiquity, the devices used were horns, or acoustic tubes, .14 but the amplification Electronics began with Bell in 1876, when he invented the telephone intending to amplify the sound to their wife and mother, both deaf. 15 idea that is implemented in 1900 in Vienna, by Ferdinand Alt. 16 only in battery-operated devices arise 1948 incorporated and in 1953 began to use the transistor in prosthetics.
In 1970 appear the first attempts of cochlear implantation. This type of implant always generated much controversy in the deaf communities around the world. The arguments in favour of the implant boil down to access to oral language, critical age of acquisition, that the surgery is simple and safe and with the possibility of providing for the child to have a social life with sound, not with disabilities. 17 18 however, the deaf community as a whole is against the cochlear implantation in deaf children, before language acquisition. 19 20 community thinks that make you deaf child to be listener, even if it's not, influence others to neglect the needs and means of support for disability. Many doctors recommend that the cochlear implant is accompanied with sign language, especially in the early years of the child in order to ensure the full child cognitive development. According to medical sources, the risks of cochlear implant include: infection, dizziness, mental stimulation, strong exposure to magnetic fields, need for medical follow-up for life.

World War Ii

In 1920, before the arrival of the nazis to power, emerged in the USA and in Germany a movement from the medical community, with the support of the societies in question, for the sake of sterilization of mentally ill criminals and psychopaths (in Germany this movement became known as racial hygiene). In 1933, with the arrival of the nazis to power, this move had political support. That same year, in Germany, a law was passed to sterilize people with genetic diseases, communicable diseases, including deafness.
At the time, Berlin contained about twenty-five communities of deaf people.
In June 1933, the German newspaper mentioned the first Deaf belonged to S.A. and a military unit composed of the deaf; a year later, this unit was disbanded, under pretext that the group does not meet the profile of the image of Nazism.
However, the deaf began to lose their rights:
recreational programs for the deaf were extinct;
deaf children have been expelled from schools and denounced to the authorities;
gradually, the Deaf schools were closed and converted to military hospitals.
Data show that, in 1937, 95% of deaf children belonged to the Hitler Youth, with the letter G (in German, initial gehoerlosan) marked on the shoulder of the coat.
Subsequently, as soon as the war began, Germany passed sterilization for euthanasia, both for economic reasons as for ideological reasons. In 1941, it was common for the use of euthanasia in the hospitals, where they were dead babies with disabilities, including deaf. 25 subsequently became common the practice of abortion, which was applied when it suspected that foetuses could have defects, or any kind of illness, as in the case of deafness.
Few deaf escaped, surviving in ghettos and concentration camps in Germany, Poland and Hungary.


Practice Until You Can’t Get it Wrong Poster

Check out this awesome new poster from Tone Deaf Comics. A classic saying put into a new spin. Get it here!

My deaf-blind friend has a closed-circuit television magnifier


Oral Deaf Education — No I don’t know sign language

“So are you studying sign language?”
I get a variation on this question almost every time someone discovers I am studying deaf education.  It’s an understandable query, as most of the portrayals of deafness in films/the media tend to revolve around signing; eg. Mr. Holland’s Opus, Children of a Lesser God, Seinfeld, The West Wing, etc.  There doesn’t appear to be a lot of public awareness about the advances in auditory technology over the last 20 years (the FDA approved the cochlear implant for toddlers in 1990) or the different communication options for DHH (deaf and hard of hearing) children.
Oral Auditory Deaf Education
I am studying an oral auditory approach to deaf education.  Essentially this means I will be teaching DHH children who have hearing devices — cochlear implants or hearing aids — that allow them to electronically access sound.  So: deaf kids who can hear.
When I explain that my students will be able to hear and I will be speaking to them, the next question I get is: Why do you need to be specially trained? (Why aren’t the kids at public school?)  Without getting too detailed, here are three main reasons:
1) Hearing devices are received after months/years of living without (or with limited) sound.  This puts them behind hearing babies who have access to sound in their mother’s womb.  DHH infants/toddlers need coaching to help them listen to and understand the sounds around them.  The first time they hear, they don’t understand what the noises mean — it’s like listening to a foreign language (except exhausting because they are working to hear).  They need to be surrounded by constant language input.  They need to work on the listening hierarchy of detecting, discriminating between, identifying, and comprehending sounds.
2) Hearing with an implant or hearing aids is not as clear as natural hearing.  It is slightly distorted/staticy; my professor likened it to listening to staticy news on a radio and straining your ears.  (Think of the relief it is when the sound is finally adjusted and the input is clear.)  Also, the devices work through microphones which are designed to filter noises, but aren’t perfect.  This means that it can be difficult for an implanted DHH student to hear clearly in situations with lots of background/ambient noise.  He will need to work with professionals who understand the devices and his individual hearing.
3) Delayed access to sound, and the decreased quality of sound will often mean speech, developmental, and cognitive delays.  If a child has low access to language during her formative years, this will impact her ability to think critically, and it will affect her social skills (eg. she won’t have heard polite behavior modeled like “please” and “thank you”).  Late access to sound will also mean speech delays which need to be worked on with a speech therapist.  A Teacher of the Deaf is trained to understand and help with all of these potential delays.
The Goal: Mainstreaming
Ultimately, the goal of Early Intervention (working with toddlers from a young age) and DHH preschool/elementary schools is getting the children up to a level where they can be successfully mainstreamed into a hearing school.  
So, I’m studying:
-Teaching.  How to be an effective teacher, child development, how to teach reading, how to work with Developmentally Appropriate Practices
- Working with deaf children and their families.  How to aid and coach parents in their role of language input.  Understanding the anatomy of the ear and the physics behind hearing loss (audiology) as well as issues with implants/aids.  Eliciting and feeding language (constantly talking to students and asking them to use their voices).
- Deaf Culture.  This includes a class on the perspectives of deaf education — the oral audio approach is still controversial today.  (Which I will discuss in a later post).  AND, though I don’t know sign language now, and I won’t be using it much in my career, I will be taking a sign language course, and I’m incredibly excited to be doing so.  


The Greatest Irony 

Hearing infants benefit from sign language, which accelerates their English development and increases their IQ points
  DBC emphasizes that Deaf infants deserve the same benefits!
American Sign Language’s (ASL) benefits: With the advent of Baby Signs**, it is clear that ASL benefits hearing babies.  Their English development is greatly accelerated, and families experience less frustration.  Therefore, if ASL is good for hearing babies, ASL is even better for Deaf babies and children.Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT): AVT, actively backed by the Alexander Graham Bell Association, has stated a position where Deaf babies should be “taught” without the use of sign language or lipreading.  AVT also actively discourages parents and family members from using sign language or accessible English.


This feature will give you a brief, illustrated overview of how to put together sentences in American Sign Language, often called ASL. To find out more about ASL, read our sign language essay, Talking Hands

Keep in mind that ASL is not English. It is a three-dimensional visual language that uses manual signs, body language and facial expressions to convey meaning. One sign may be used to convey more than one word or meaning based upon its context and accompanying visual gestures. Also, English sentences cannot be simply translated word by word into sign. Like any foreign language, ASL has distinct rules for grammar and sentence syntax. 

GUIDELINE 1: Facial expression matters. Compare the ASL sentences for "I'm going to the restaurant" and "Are you going to the restaurant?" Questions are accompanied by arched eyebrows and an inquisitive look.

GUIDELINE 2: ASL does not use verb tenses. Past, present and future are conveyed by introducing time frame words like "yesterday," "today" or "tomorrow" into the beginning of a sentence to establish the context of what follows. For example, to say "I saw your mother yesterday," the direct translation in sign would look like this:

GUIDELINE 3: Keep it linear. Most ASL sentence structure is based upon sequential thought. That is, if you talk about one event happening after another event, you would describe the first event and then the second. If you said in English: "I'm going to lunch after I finish this report" the direct sign translation would be: 

To find out more about sign language and classes in ASL, check out the Resources page or contact your local society for the deaf.


Pioneer Teacher of the Deaf, Pedro de Ponce de Leon (15?–1584)

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 18 October 2013
Pedro de Ponce de Leon was a Benedictine monk who lived in the San Salvador de Ona Monastery near Burgos, where he took his vows in 1526 (Werner, 1932).  (Most records perpetuate the mistake of dating his birth to 1520.)  Of noble lineage himself (the Ponce de Leon family  produced a number of notable people in Spanish history) he became a pioneer teacher of the deaf when he came across two aristocratic deaf boys in the care of the monastery.
Werner (1932, p. 223) says that
Pedro Ponce cannot be depicted as such an encyclopedic genius, as he is usually made out to be. It is equally incorrect to assert that from the very beginning he aimed at teaching the deaf-mutes to speak. The course of history and his own technique show that chance played a large part and that although this monk undoubtedly possessed a great deal of altruism and didactic skill, his knowledge of deaf-mutism was in many ways inaccurate, which nevertheless did not prevent him from being successful.
One brother died quite young.  The boys were taught to read and speak to a fair degree by Ponce, although the chronicler and relation of the boys Baltasar de Zúñiga said of one, “Although his speech was somewhat clumsy, the subtlety of his argument compensated for this drawback.” (Werner, p.225)
Pedro went on to teach ten to twelves others to acquire some limited vocabulary, though with less success than the first two.  Someone asked Pedro de Ponce how he went about teaching, and he put the question to don Pedro his pupil.  Ambrosio de Morales quotes don Pedro;
You see, when I was young and as ignorant as a stone, I began to learn to write and first of all I wrote the names of object which my teacher showed me.  Then I wrote all the Spanish words in a book which was provided me for this purpose.  Then, with God’s help, I began to spell out and speak as loudly as I could, although a great deal of spittle came from my mouth.  Afterwards I began to read stories so that in ten years I had read stories from all over the world.  Later I learned Latin.  This all happened by God’s great grace without which nothing can succeed. (Werner p,227)
Werner goes on to surmise what may be the realities of the case;  Pedro de Ponce was interested in botany & natural history, but this could well mean he was a ‘clever gardener and grower’;  the boys attached themselves to him because he was kind, not because he showed any particular interest in deafness;  he only attempted to teach them speech when they were already able to write (Werner p.228-9).  It seems he was accidentally lucky, and Werner points out that he cannot “have known Aristotle’s dictum concerning the impossibility of teaching deaf-mutes or otherwise he would not have gone about his task so sanguinely” (ibid).  While he was a great man, a blind allegiance to Aristotle in the Middle Ages and later meant many people relied on what he said rather than on their own observations.
Ponce was unaware of the possibility of lipreading, but built on spontaneous sounds the boys produced, and did it seems use a hand alphabet and gesture (ibid p.232). The hand alphabet was, Werner speculates, possibly the same as that used later by Ramírez de Carrión and Bonet.
One of his pupils who was a success although not in speaking, was Brother Gaspar de Burgos, who became sacristan at the church of San Juan in Burgos “to the astonishment of those who associated with him and knew his secret” (ibid p.240).
Despite some success in teaching, Pedro de Ponce did not pass on his teaching to others like Juan Pablo de Bonet.  Nonetheless, he remains an important figure for Deaf education in the early modern period.
You can read Werner’s full account of de Ponce and his methods in a typed translation in the library:
Werner, Hans, History of the Problem of Deaf-Mutism until the 17th Century.  translated by C.K. Bonning in a typed bound manuscript in the library RNID YA 17.


Gerrit Van Asch, oral Teacher of the Deaf

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 11 October 2013
Gerrit van Asch (1837-1908) was born in Holland.  He was trained in the ‘German’ or ‘Oral’ method by David Hirsch, Principal of the Rotterdam Deaf School.  Hirsch (1813-95) had been inspired in his teaching by Friedrich Moritz Hill (1805-75).
Moritz Hill’s guidelines can be summarised in the sentence: ‘Teaching of spoken language is in everything.’ He wanted deaf children to be introduced to language by the ‘natural method’ – that is in the same way as hearing children learn to speak, by constant daily use, associated with proper objects and actions. Therefore, speech in his opinion had tp be taught before reading and writing aand had to be used from the very beginning as the basis for teaching and communication. natural gestures were not discouraged but needed to be replaced by speech as soon as possible. (Markides 1983)
Gerrit van Asch came to Manchester in the early 1860s as the tutor to the child of a wealthy Jewish merchant.  This marked the revival of teaching speech to Deaf children in Britain.
In 1862 van Asch opened a private school for deaf children in London (see Markides p.17).
I am guessing these pictures are circa 1900.


A Treatise on the Education of the Deaf and Dumb by John England

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 27 September 2013
In 1819 John England published A treatise on the education of the deaf and dumb.  England says (p.vi) “It is not necessary, in this address, to enter into a detail explaining all the means by which I acquired the art of communicating instruction to the Deaf and Dumb: suffice it, therefore, to state in this place, that I have derived my information more from the local situations, and adventitious circumstances in which I was placed in my younger years, than to any systematic instruction received from other teachers.”  That is a pity as it would be very interesting to know how he became involved in teaching Deaf children.
England, ‘Teacher to the Institution under the Patronage of the Northern Society for Educating the Deaf and Dumb, in Aberdeen’, set up a day school in Skene Street around 1818.  It was a rival of the Aberdeen Institution but was clearly unable to compete.
England praises Sicard but reserves most praise for Moret (p.36-7)
But of all the methods hitherto tried to infuse instruction into the minds of the deaf and dumb, none come up to the experiments of M. de Moret.
M. de Moret, by order of the French government, commenced his labours upon four deaf children in 1813, which he has continued up to the present day.  The experiments of M. de Moret are highly interesting to humanity.  He has acquired the art of infusing into the minds of his deaf pupils, by means of their eyes, a capability of giving utterance to their thoughts in an intelligible voice ; and without screams, to read in a natural tone, to write to verbal dictation ; and to originate and adapt ideas to things that are proper for them.  He has succeeded completely in adding to their natural stock of ideas, and in giving them an exact knowledge of language, and things abstracted from the senses.  He has enabled them to converse intelligibly with other men, without putting into requisition any outward signs, whereby to make themselves understood.  It is by an attention to the motion of the speaker’s lips in the light, and by touching in the dark, that they are enabled to comprehend his import : and, by these several means, he has given the deaf and dumb facilities of education by no means inferior to those enjoyed by persons who have their faculties perfect.  This unexampled success, which appears almost a phenomenon, evinces indubitably, that M. de Moret has arrived at the highest stage of perfection in the art of teaching the deaf and dumb, which has hitherto been attained.
Just after this England says,
I have at present two pupils, the one blind and the other deaf and dumb ; and, strange-as it may appear, they can communicate their ideas to each other by signs and feeling, so as the one can comprehend what the other wants to infuse. The dumb pupil instructs the blind by the sense of feeling, and makes the
latter understand him by touching different parts of his body : and the blind pupil conveys his meaning to the deaf and dumb by signs and outward motions.
If he had only two pupils, clearly this ‘pamphlet’, as he calls it, was an attempt to recruit more, for he goes on to point out potential numbers of Deaf children in Aberdeen.

You can see the book in our collection, or read the full book online via the Charles Baker collection at Gallaudet.
If you know more about John England or his school, do post a comment.
Apologies for the lack of posts over September – holidays intervened and we had a surfeit of posts from the summer exhibition.


5 Reasons You Need to Teach Your Baby Sign Language

When I held my baby for the first time, I remember thinking about all the things I was going to teach him, show him, and give him. I envisioned all the opportunities and experiences I was going to make available to him when he was older. I looked forward to teaching him how to read and write, to love language, books and art. I imagined him growing up to be good, kind and compassionate, with a strong desire to learn and experience the world around him. It had never occurred to me that I didn’t have to wait until he was older – that there were things that I could start teaching him now while I cradled him in my arms.
It wasn’t until he was 9 months old that I discovered baby sign language and let me tell you, I wish I had known about it earlier! I never would have imagined that this little baby of mine was even capable of expressing what he wanted, let alone that I would be able to understand him. It was incredible. There are no words that can describe just how amazing that moment is when your baby can show you with baby sign language that he is hungry or cold or wants to be picked up or to see him sign I love you.
There are plenty of scientific facts and studies that promote the use of sign language with babies. They show that baby sign language fosters early communication before speech, decreases tantrums, increases vocabulary, language and IQ.

If you still aren’t convinced about this sudden craze over Baby Sign Language, here are just 5 reasons why you need to start teaching your baby sign language now!

Would you ever consider not teaching your child how to speak?
As a parent, teaching children to speak isn’t even considered because it is something we automatically do. Ultimately we want to give our children the tools they need to communicate, but we get stuck on the idea that communication requires speech. It doesn’t! Babies naturally are trying to express what they want or feel with their hands and/or body language. We just don’t understand them. With baby sign language, we are given a tool or guide to understand them better. It is amazing how much a little baby can learn and how much they are able to express through sign language. Why would any parent want to deprive their baby of the first language they should all learn – Baby Sign Language!
When they can express themselves, it makes them happier!
A happy baby makes for a happy mommy and daddy! The first couple of years can be anything but easy, so why not try baby sign language which can make it just a little bit easier. As adults we know how frustrating it is when others don’t understand our needs or wants – and we can talk! Just imagine how frustrated your baby can be when they don’t have the ability to tell you what they want or need, when they are completely dependent on you for everything. As an adult, if others don’t meet or needs or wants, we have options, we can do things ourselves or find others who understand us. Babies can’t do this. That’s why it makes it even more important that we give them the gift of early language through signs. When you’re baby can tell you he wants a cracker and not more milk and you give it to him right away without all the guessing and second guessing – you can imagine the difference in his behavior. Baby sign language helps them to express themselves clearly.
They want to learn!
Everything is new to a baby and they want to know and experience as much as they can. Teaching them baby sign language helps to fill their need to learn. And they learn fast! You would be surprised just how fast their sign language skills are used to build their vocabulary and speech. The more you show them, the more they are excited to learn more. You will be pleasantly surprised the day your baby speaks for the first time and its not just one word but a string of words. Baby sign language helps to build a dictionary of words in your child’s brain so big that when their motor skills are developed enough, the words come pouring out of them!
It facilitates bilingualism.
My children are part of a bilingual family and sign language has helped them to connect two different spoken languages to one image and sign. This was absolutely an unexpected result from teaching my children sign language. Not only did baby sign language help them to connect the hand sign with the two spoken languages – it helped my husband to learn a second language too! The more senses that are engaged the easier it is to learn things. In this case, using your hands to sign, your eyes to see an image and your ears to hear the words, helped to quickly connect them together. As babies, it made it so easy for them to hear a word in English or Chinese and automatically imagine the same image in their head for both sounds, and produce the same sign for them instantly.
Its just so darn cute!
The experience of watching a little tiny baby think about something and sign it to you, is the most amazing thing to watch. To know that their little brains are even capable of holding and processing so much information is incredible. Babies and toddlers are normally thought of and treated like babies and toddlers. When you see your baby sign for the first time, you definitely see them as super babies! And believe me, when other parents see just how well your baby can express himself, they will be begging you to show them how they can teach their baby sign language too!
Well that’s only my top 5 reasons why I feel I was lucky to teach my children sign language, with a simple Google search, you’ll be able to find a lot more reasons why baby sign language is definitely not something you want to opt out of. Give it a try and you will be pleasantly surprised at how much of a difference it makes to your baby, yourself and your family!
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