American Deaf Culture
Introduction to Deaf History
Centuries-long struggle of discrimination
Opportunities for the hearing-impaired
Debate over manual and oral communication.
Cochlear implant debate.
In the Beginning
Hebrew Law Denies Deaf
The Torah protected the deaf from being cursed by others
Does not allow the Deaf to participate
fully in the rituals of the Temple.
Special laws concerning marriage and
property were established for deaf-mutes
Property Rights were denied to Deaf-mutes
Deaf-mutes were not allowed to be witnesses in the courts.
Philosophy of Innate
All intelligence was present at birth.
All people are born with perfect
abstracts, ideas and language in
their minds and required only
time to demonstrate their intelligence.
Without speech there was no outward sign of intelligence, so Deaf people
must not be capable of ideas or language
Ancient Greeks Deny
"Deaf people could not be educated
without hearing, people could not learn."
and those "born deaf become senseless
and incapable of reason.
Greek = perfect language
Cant speak Greek = Barbarians
Deaf = barbarian.
Early Christians See
Deafness as Sin
Tells early Christians that deaf children are a sign of God's anger at
the sins of their parents.
Dark and Middle Ages
- the early part of the Middle Ages:
Deaf adults objects of ridicule (court jesters)
Committed to asylums because of speech and behavior thought to be
possessed by demons
Middle Ages 476-1453
People born deaf could
not have faith, could not
be saved and were barred
Must be able to "hear" the word of God - Punishment from God
First Attempts at
Educating the Deaf
Geronimo Cardano of Padua, Italy
First physician to recognize the
ability of the deaf to reason.
Attempts to teach his deaf
son using a code of symbols, believing that the deaf can be taught written
Pedro Ponce de Leon, a Benedictine Monk
Invent signs to circumvent "vow of silence".
To communicate necessary information, they develop their own form of sign
These signs may have been used later in attempts to teach Deaf children
Successfully teaches speech to people deaf since birth.
He taught deaf sons of the Spanish nobility in order that they might
Used reading and writing, but also taught speech.
Juan Pablo Bonet
An advocate of early sign language, to write the first well-known book of
manual alphabetic signs for the deaf in 1620.
Settled by 200 immigrants from Kent County
England, an area known as "the Weald".
Carried dominant and recessive genes for deafness.
By the mid-1700's a sign language (not ASL, it was not invented yet) had
developed on the island, used by deaf and hearing islanders alike.
Almost all inhabitants signed and town meetings were signed for all.
Deaf islanders married, had families, worked, voted, held public office
and were equal.
The birth rate for deaf children
1 in 155 on the island
In some villages as high as 1 in 25 and 1 in 4 (compared to the average
of 1 in 1000).
In some villages, as many as 25 percent of the residents are deaf.
American School for the Deaf was
Island deaf children went to Hartford to be educated
They brought island signs with them and influenced FSL in its change to
Start of Oral
German oral teacher of the deaf
The first oral school for the deaf in the world in Germany.
Using techniques developed by a Dutch doctor,
Heinicke teaches pupils speech by having them feel his throat while he
his orally based educational techniques are called "the German
French Sign Language
Charles Michel De L'Eppe
A French priest, and "father of Sign
Language and Deaf Education"
Established the first free public school for the deaf in France.
Tried to develop a bridge between the deaf and hearing worlds through a
system of standardized signs and finger spelling.
Charles Michel De
Founded a shelter for the deaf in Paris and a school for deaf children in
Established the first free public school for the deaf (1771)
Wrote "The Instruction of Deaf and Mute Persons Using Methodological
Signs", first book to advocate the use of natural signs (1776)
In 1788 he published a dictionary of French sign language.
Deaf Education Spreads Around the World
Thomas Braidwood opened first school for the deaf in England.
Arnoldi, a German pastor, believed education of the deaf should begin as
early as four years.
Abba Silvestri opened first school for the deaf in Italy in Rome.
First American Deaf
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet & Laurent
American interested in deaf education
Travels to Europe and meets Laurent Clerc
Gallaudet and Clerc return to
American and found the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.
Originally named the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction
of Deaf and Dumb Persons, the first permanent school for the deaf in America.
First American Deaf
Many teachers of the deaf, train in Hartford, and, soon sign-based deaf
schools in New York, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and elsewhere begin to flourish.
Alice Cogswell, Gallaudet's initial inspiration to teach the deaf, is the
first to graduate from the American School.
Deaf Schools Spread
- New York School for the Deaf established
1820 - Pennsylvania School for the Deaf
1823 - Kentucky School for the Deaf
1829 - Ohio School for the Deaf
1839 - Virginia School for the Deaf
- More than 30 schools for the Deaf were established by Deaf and hearing
teachers from the American School for the Deaf and Gallaudet College, including
schools in Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina
Golden Age of Deaf Education
1912 - "Golden Age of Deaf Education" American Sign Language
flourishes Approximately 40% of all teachers are Deaf
A Deaf State Is
Former pupil of the Connecticut school
Proposed to Congress that there be a deaf state
Land be set aside in the western territories for the creation of a deaf
Deaf could control their schools and establish their own government
For the deaf community to flourish unrestrained by prejudice and the
often restrictive good intentions of hearing society.
Signs the charter for the Washington, D.C. based college for the deaf.
National College for the Deaf and Dumb, it is the only accredited
facility for the deaf in the United States to offer college degrees.
The first president of Gallaudet is Edward Miner Gallaudet, son of Thomas
The dedication of the Gallaudet family is honored when the college
changes its name to Gallaudet College in 1893.
Today, Gallaudet remains a leader in higher education for the deaf.
Alexander Graham Bell
Promotes Deaf Education
Alexander Graham Bell
Telephone inventor who began his career
as a deaf educator.
Mother was hard of hearing and whose father spent much of his life
promoting a teaching method for the deaf called "visible speech,"
Bells Deaf School
opens a school in Boston that
concentrates on oral methods of instruction
for teachers of the deaf.
The school is not successful, due to
heavy opposition from established deaf schools that use manual sign methods.
Bell eventually gives up administering deaf education and refocuses his
attention on a contraption he has been tinkering with that mechanizes speech.
In 1876, he invents the telephone. Armed with wealth and enormous
recognition, he goes on to found the Volta Bureau to promote oral- based
education for deaf children.
A period of upheaval in deaf education begins with a backlash against
The Conference of
In a move with repercussions well into the future, this international
gathering of deaf educators pronounces oral education methods superior to manual
The only country opposing the vote for oral-based education is the United
States, where manual education has made great strides.
Milan Conference Cont.
During the next 10 years, the popularity of manual education for the deaf
Seventy-five percent of teachers using the manual method have retired by
In the U.S., the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is founded and
gains support in reaction to the Milan resolution.
The NAD is instrumental in keeping sign language and manual education
Helen Keller is born in Tuscambia, Alabama. Taught at home by her friend
and teacher Annie Sullivan and later at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in
Boston, Mass. Helen graduated from Radcliffe College. She lost both her hearing
and sight at 19 months, but went on to become an educated person.
Women admitted to the National Deaf-Mute College (now Gallaudet).
Electrical Hearing Aid
While early hearing aids are not easy to use (most weigh several pounds
and must be placed on a desk), the carbon-based microphones, powered by large
three- and six-volt batteries, give hearing-impaired people truly amplified
sound for the first time.
Alexander Graham Bell reportedly develops an earphone for amplifying
sound, but he never pursues a patent.
Gallaudet As It Is Known Today
National Deaf-Mute College became Gallaudet College.
Deaf Players Change Baseball
In 1901, baseball's American
League gets its first grand slam
thanks to William "Dummy" Hoy,
a deaf player. Umpire hand signals are developed so that Hoy can see a
strike call from the outfield.
In the 1920s, Gallaudet University's football team keeps its plays a
secret by hiding signed instructions in a huddle formation. Soon, other teams
are huddling up too, and a football tradition is born.
Rise of Oralism
1927 - Oralism in America is at its zenith. Only 15% of teachers
While deaf people are not allowed to serve in the U.S. military during
World War I and World War II, wartime labor shortages provide many new job
opportunities for deaf people.
Many take manufacturing jobs, and new deaf communities, such as the one
based around the Goodyear plant in Akron, Ohio, flourish.
Meanwhile, in Europe, entire companies of
deaf soldiers take up arms.
In the field, commands are given using
special signs that can be seen at a distance.
- World War Two creates a need for labor. Deaf men and women are hired in record
numbers to work in defense industries. Many relocate to work in factories in
California, Ohio, New York and Washington, DC. Many employers note the abilities
of Deaf workers for the first time.
ASL is a Language
- First Linguistic book and defense of ASL as a language by William Stoke
Phone for Deaf Invented
Robert Weitbrecht, who is deaf, invents the teletypewriter (TTY), which
enables deaf people to use phone lines to call each other and type out their
Oral Deaf Education
Congress issues the Babbidge Report on oral deaf education and concludes
that it has been a "dismal failure." Many in the deaf community
applaud this report, and look at it as a long-over due acknowledgment of the
superiority of manual communication and education.
Deaf Theater Takes Shape
- Bernard Bragg, a deaf actor and mime, stars in The Silent Man", a TV
program in California. Bragg, a graduate of the Fanwood School for the Deaf in
White Plains, New York was a co-founder of the National Theater of the Deaf and
has toured America with his one-man show
- National Theater of the Deaf is established
Legislation at Work
- Bilingual Education Act (P.L. 89-10) is passed. American Sign Language is not
included because it is not recognized as a language
Total Communication Leads to
Two historically divergent education methods converge, at least in
theory, as Total Communication, a combination of manual and speech-based
instruction for the deaf is developed and promoted.
Formulated in the early 1960's by a mother dissatisfied with oral-based
attempts to teach her deaf daughter, the Total Communication system gains
grassroots support and becomes the foundation for a new approach to deaf
education within public school systems.
Development of Other Sign Systems
1970-1972 - Signed English, Seeing Essential English and SEE II
methods are developed in order to create a manual code for English that can be
used to supplement the Oral method. These sign systems are to be used
simultaneously with speech to promote the development of English skills.
The Caption Center at WGBH in Boston open captions "The French
Chef" the country's first nationally broadcast captioned program. It airs
on PBS. By 1980 Close Captioning is developed and the first show broadcast.
Close Captioning hides the text from view unless the user has a decoding device.
By 1993, the FCC requires that all newly manufactured televisions have the
Disabled Gain Right to
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 includes a section requiring that the
disabled be given access and equal opportunity to use the resources of
organizations that receive federal funds or that are under federal contracts.
This opens many doors for wheelchair-bound and blind individuals, and
also requires that accommodations such as TTY phones and interpreters be
provided for the deaf.
National Association of the Deaf did census of Deaf Americans; counted
13.4 million hearing and 1.8 million deaf Americans.
1975 Public Law 94-142
By 1975, Public Law 94-142, is passed requiring handicapped children in
the U.S. be provided with free and appropriate education, allowing many to be
mainstreamed into regular public schools, where they receive special instruction
but interact with the general public school population. Mainstreaming is
accepted as current educational philosophy. Number of Deaf teacher's drops to
its lowest point - 11%.
1978 - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is
passed. The law requires that all businesses, colleges and organizations which
have federal contracts or receive federal funds be open and accessible to
physically disabled persons
- The Signs of Language Klima and Bellugi. First Linguistic research on ASL
Silent Network - A Deaf Cable Channel
Broadcasting in 1981 with only 2 million homes, and by 1990, many as 14
million homes has access to the program. The network went 24-hours a day, seven
days a week.
Sign Language Books Written by Deaf
1980 - First sign language books by deaf authors - Padden, Humphries and
O'Rourke's "ABC's of ASL"
1985 - Deaf Mosiac begins broadcasting from Gallaudet University
Television Studios in Washington, DC. The program, which ended production in
1995, won Emmy awards for, the producers and hosts Mary Lou Novitisky and Gil
The cochlear implant is approved for clinical trials in people 18 and
The device is a mechanical prosthesis of sorts for the inner ear.
It bypasses the bones of the inner ear, placing electrodes directly into
the cochlea, where sound waves are absorbed and interpreted by the auditory
Some Deaf leaders view it as a conspiracy to destroy Deaf Culture
Deaf Actress Wins Oscar
Marlee Matlin becomes the first deaf actress to win an Academy Award, for
her role in the movie "Children of a Lesser God."
'Deaf President Now'
Students and faculty at Gallaudet University protest the selection of
another hearing president.
The 'Deaf President Now' protest continues for one week, with multiple
rallies, press conferences and marches.
After eight days of student protests, I. King Jordan is named the first
deaf president of Gallaudet University.
Meanwhile, Congress recommends that American Sign Language be used as the
primary language for the deaf, with English as a second language.
1988 - Students and faculty at Gallaudet University protest the
selection of Dr. Elisabeth Zinser a hearing president. Deaf President Now
Protest (DPN) continues for one week, ending with the selection of I. King
Jordan as the first Deaf President of Gallaudet University and a change in the
members of the college Board of Directors
ASL and Deaf Education
- Signing Naturally Curriculum published, written and produced by Deaf authors
Ella Mae Lentz and Ken Mikos
1988 - "Unlocking the Curriculum" published by the Gallaudet
University Linguistics Department. This proposes a return to ASL as the first
method of instruction for Deaf children. It refutes the Manually Coded English
approaches, using speech and sign.
Toward Equality: Education of the Deaf
- Congressional Report published - "Toward Equality: Education of the
Deaf." Report recommends that ASL be used as a primary medium of language
instruction with English as a second language. Also recommends that ASL be
included in the Bilingual Education Act. Office of Special Education and
Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) investigates the possibility of adding ASL and
Deaf children to the Bilingual Education Act, but again it is not approved
because of the status of hearing parents and questions regarding ASL as a
Discriminatory practices and obstacles to accessibility for the
handicapped are both outlawed.
The law has a huge impact on the wheel chair dependent, and also requires
greater communications, education, and employment opportunities for the deaf.
In keeping with the ADA, caption decoder chips are required in television
sets larger than 13".
Deaf Schools Termed
The 1972 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is re-adopted
and amended to recommend that disabled students should attend schools with the
"least restrictive environment."
Residential deaf schools are struck a blow as they become labeled the
"most restrictive environment."
Enrollment plunges, and some schools close their doors.
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is passed. U. S. Department
of Education establishes a Policy of Inclusion, giving all disabled students the
right to attend neighborhood schools in a "least restrictive
environment." Residential schools for the Deaf are labeled "most
restrictive environment." Policy of assimilation into society is the goal
of IDEA. Residential schools for the Deaf in some states are forced to close
because of decreasing enrollment, but number of Deaf teachers rise slightly (to
16%) as more teaching opportunities in the public schools and the desire for
Deaf role models increase.
First Deaf Miss America Crowned
Heather Whitestone, an orally
educated deaf woman from Birmingham, Alabama, wins the coveted crown.
She states, "[Speech] worked for me, but it
does not work for all deaf children."
Speech vs. sign clouds her reign. Her attempt to calm the storm by
stressing individual differences and "it (speech) worked for me, but it
does not work for all deaf children" does not entirely end the controversy.
The question is often asked, "Is she an appropriate deaf role model for
deaf children and for the general public?"
Use of cochlear Implants
increases. Nucleus 22 device and SPEAK Speech Processing system (developed at
the University of Melbourne, Australia) are the latest technological advances in
12,000 candidates have been
implanted at a cost of approximately $40,000.
Adults and Children severely
to profoundly Deaf, age two and above are considered candidates.
Many parents opt for cochlear
implants and mainstreamed education as an educational plan for their Deaf
Statistics and notes about cochlear
The average percentage of words identified correctly from a sentence test
by deafened-adult test subjects who had their implants for at least six months
was 12% without lipreading. That means they missed 88% of the words.
But since then, as the processors have improved, the 12% has increased to
78%, and that's still without lipreading.
Over 7,000 people with various types of implants worldwide over 1,000
(out of 7,000) are children
1996 - Movie "Mr. Holland's Opus" is released starring Richard
Dryfus as a music teacher who must learn to understand his Deaf son
The Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) released new captioning rules for the broadcast and cable
These new rules now require
100% of cable television to be captioned with eight years - 2006, and require
real-time captioning for many local news programs.
The FCC will also be revising
its rule to require that 100% of new programming must be captioned, beginning
Jan. 1, 2006
Christy Smith, Athletic Deaf Woman
Christy Smith (2000) alumnus of Gallaudet University, Smith competed on
this season's Survivor reality series on CBS, "The Amazon."
The other contestants were not told in advance that Smith is deaf, by the
Sudden Hearing Loss - Rush Limbaugh Talk
Due to autoimmune inner ear disease.
Used a Teleprompter and staff assistance to answer callers.
A cochlear implant was the solution for Limbaugh. He needed one because
one ear was totally deaf, and the other one was nearly so. As someone who had
already experienced hearing, he was a good implant candidate.
The implant in his left ear restored some hearing, but the right ear is
Deanne Bray - Deaf Actress and Television Star
F.B.Eye on the Pax channel.
Bray grew up deaf since birth (May 14, 1971) and uses one hearing aid.
Bray was involved with deaf theater (Deaf West Theatre).
Curtis Pride - Deaf Professional Baseball
Born in the Washington, DC metro area, deaf at birth from rubella. He
grew up oral.
Pride began his career as a part-time New York Mets minor leaguer, and
moved on to stints with the Montreal Expos (minors and majors), the Detroit
Tigers (majors), the Boston Red Sox (minors/briefly in the majors), the Atlanta
Braves (majors), the Kansas City Royals, the Salt Lake Stingers (minors), and
the Nashua Pride (minors).
In 2003, Pride was called up from the minors by the New York Yankees. The
Yankee stint did not last long - only four games.
2005 - Foxy Brown, Deaf?
In December 2005, Foxy held a press conference to reveal that her hearing
had deteriorated so much, she needed someone to tap out beats on her shoulder
when she was in the recording studio.
She announced she was suffering from severe and sudden sensorineural
hearing loss in both ears for about 1 year.
She underwent the cochlear implant surgery
The Cochlear Implant
Today, over 30,000 individuals
have been implanted worldwide, over 3,000 cochlear implants were performed in
The FDA has now approved
cochlear implants in children as young as 12 months of age. Excellent speech and
hearing results are expected to be part of their future with proper follow-up
Next Next Side shows the Surgery Process
Cochlear Implant Surgery
Questions or Comments
Do you feel that the Cochlear implants are seen as a positive or negative
as a whole?
Which side makes the strongest argument? The Deaf view or the Medical.
Explain your thoughts.