The History of Deaf Education Essay

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Long before Thomas Gallaudet founded the first permanent school for the deaf in America, controversy as to the educability and best method of communicating with the deaf have existed. In fact, in the Biblical Times section of the book The Deaf Community in America Socrates, in conversation with Hermogenes is quoted saying, “Suppose that we have no voice or tongue, and wanted to indicate objects to one another, should we not, like the deaf and dumb, make signs with the hands, head and the rest of the body? Hermogenes replied, “How could it be otherwise, Socrates?” (M.Nomeland and R.Nomeland 7). However, Aristotle in apparent disagreement with Socrates believed that hearing contributed the most to intelligence and that thought could be …show more content…
Gallaudet, “impressed by the use of signs in addition to the speech and lipreading methods used to educate French deaf children” (Lane 34) at the National Institution for the deaf Mutes in Paris, “was invited to the National Institutions teachers preparation program at no charge” (Lane 34). While there, Gallaudet studied Sicard’s methods which allowed, “the deaf to comprehend and formulate sentences in manual French and [studied] the composite meaning of … separate words” (Lane 8). After spending several months studying at the institute, Clerc accompanied Gallaudet back to America. On the fifty-two day return trip Gallaudet taught Clerc English, and Clerc helped Gallaudet with his signing skills. On April 15, 1817, seven months after returning from Paris, Gallaudet and Clerc opened “Americas first successful school for deaf children … in Hartford” (Nomeland 35) bringing enthusiasm to education; somewhat of a “golden period in deaf history” (Sacks 21) that led to the opening of schools and the expansion of American Sign Language wherever “there was a sufficient density of [deaf] population” (Sacks 23).
Much like the evolution of spoken English, the indigenous and regional sign languages that were brought to the school by the students influenced the vocabulary and grammar of the French method brought by Clerc, and together they formed the American Sign…