Deaf history

The history of deaf people and their culture make up deaf history. The Deaf culture is a culture that is centered on sign language and relationships among one another. Unlike other cultures the Deaf culture is not associated with any native land as it is a global culture. By some, deafness may be viewed as a disability, but the Deaf world sees itself as a language minority. Throughout the years many accomplishments have been achieved by deaf people. To name the most famous, Ludwig van Beethoven and Thomas Alva Edison were both deaf and contributed great works to culture.

Deaf people who know Sign Language are proud of their history. In the United States, they recount the story of Laurent Clerc, a Deaf educator, and Thomas H. Gallaudet, an American educator, coming to the United States from France in 1816 to help found the first permanent school for deaf children in the country. In the late 1850s there was a debate about whether or not to create a separate deaf state in the west. The idea was based on the event when the American Congress, at that time, gave part of Alabama to the American Asylum. This deaf state would be a place where all deaf people could migrate, if chosen to, and prosper, however, this plan failed and the whole debate died.[1]

Another well-known event is the 1880 Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf in Milan, Italy, where hearing educators voted to embrace oral education and remove sign language from the classroom. This effort resulted in strong opposition within Deaf cultures today to the oralist method of teaching deaf children to speak and lip read with limited or no use of sign language in the classroom. The method is intended to make it easier for deaf children to integrate into hearing communities, but there have been many arguments about whether the manual method (where the teachers teach Sign Language as the main way to communicate) or the Oral method (where the teachers make the student learn to speak) are better. Most people now agree that the Manual Method is the preferred method of Deaf communication. The use of sign language is central to the Deaf peoples as a cultural identity and attempts to limit its use are viewed as an attack.[2]

Bond history of the deaf cultureEdit

Sign language is the most important instrument for communication between deaf people and the Deaf culture. Using sign language deaf people can join social networks, local and globally, which join the Deaf culture together. Sign Language is a loose term for people that are deaf or hard of hearing and use signs to communicate. American Sign Language (ASL) is most closely related to the older form of French Sign Language, as Laurent Clerc, who was deaf and a teacher, was brought to the America's by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Though Clerc brought French Sign Language, there was already sign language being used. Martha's Vineyard had more than average deaf people who had created their own Sign Language. The French Sign Language and the Sign Language that was already in use, became American Sign Language. Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities are closely drawn together due to their culture and use of Sign Language. Sign language, like the English language, is always changing. If you learn Sign Language on the West coast of the United States and then travel to the East Coast, you will find a different dialect of ASL; although very similar, there are differences. In the United States you will find many dialects of Sign Language - from SEE sign (Signed Exact English), which follows English grammar rules when using modified ASL signs, to the Rochester Method, where every single word is finger spelled out in the English Language, generally without the use of signs. There is a grey area in between 'English' and 'ASL' known as Contact Variety (previously referred to as Pidgin Sign Language, or PSE), which uses any number of combinations of English word order/grammar combined with aspects of ASL (or SEE). You then have people that are not originally from the United States that move here and once they acclimate to ASL, what they sign becomes a mixture of ASL, SEE and their native countries' Sign Language, creating yet another dialect of Sign Language.

Another powerful bonding forced in the Deaf culture is athletics. Athletics open up a path to achievement where many others are shut out by prejudice due to the level playing field of certain sports. Athletics also create many networking opportunities for Deaf people across the United States to expand their social circles, due to the increased mobility that results from out-of-state competitions, because the deaf population is considerably small at the local scale.[3] Deaf people participate in athletic activities to cultivate their cultural identity as Deaf people. In athletics, they can find solidarity where they are able to comfortably communicate with one another without barriers, embrace values and social norms natural for them and distinct from those in the hearing community, and allow for Deaf people to participate as coaches, athletes, and participants.[4] The American Athletic Association of the Deaf (AAAD) is huge help for deaf people by representing Deaf clubs and organizations throughout the entire American states.[5] The impact of sports in the deaf community can also be seen on the international level. The Deaflympics, sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, are an elite international sporting event where deaf athletes from across the world compete against each other quadrennially.[6]

Political deaf historyEdit

The first ever political movement in Deaf history happened in 1880 in Milan, Italy and was called the Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf, although it was actually the very first International Congress on Education of the Deaf. This first international conference consisted of Deaf educators and is commonly known as "The Milan Conference". The conference held deliberations from September 6, 1880, to September 11, 1880, and declared that oral education was superior to manual education and decided to ban the use of sign language in school. There was not one single Deaf educator invited to the conference. Following the conference, schools in Europe and the United States switched to using speech therapy without sign language as a method of education for the Deaf.[2]

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has 22,000 direct members and is a vigorous advocate for sign language and the rights of Deaf people. The NAD helped conduct the first census of the Deaf population. It supports a legal defense fund, sponsors annual camps, and helps fight for the rights of the Deaf community.[5]

Famous Deaf peopleEdit

  • Paul D. Hubbard - Deaf football player credited with the invention of the huddle.
  • Matt Hamill – Mixed martial arts fighter in the UFC.[7]
  • Braam Jordaan – South African filmmaker, animator, and an advocate for Sign Language and human rights of Deaf people.
  • Juliette Gordon Low – The founder of the Girl Scouts.
  • Dummy Hoy – The first Deaf major-league baseball player.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Was completely deaf for the last part of his life and yet managed to produce what some consider to be some of the greatest piano music of all time.
  • Cal Rodgers – The very first Deaf pilot in the USA in 1911.



  • Nyle DiMarco – First ever Deaf Winner of America's Next Top Model (cycle 22) First ever Deaf winner of ABC's Dancing With The Stars


  • 1000 B.C.: Hebrew Law denies deaf rights. Torah protects the deaf from being cursed by others, but does not allow them to participate fully in the rituals of the Temple. Special laws concerning marriage and property were established for deaf-mutes, but deaf-mutes were not allowed to be witnesses in the courts.[10][11]
  • c. 364 B.C.: Aristotle asserted that "Deaf are born incapable to reason"[12] and that "the blind were more intelligent than the deaf"
  • c. 360 B.C.: Socrates quoted by Plato in "Cratylus" mentions the deaf who express themselves in gestures movement, depicting that which is light or a higher sphere by raising the hands or describing a galloping horse by imitating its motion.[13]
  • 355 B.C.: Ancient Greeks deny deaf education; Aristotle believed that "Deaf people could not be educated without hearing, people could not learn," and those "born deaf become senseless and incapable of reason.". The Greeks also viewed the Greek language as perfect and anyone who could not speak to be a barbarian, thus deaf people were barbarians.[citation needed]
  • c. 44 B.C.: Quintus Pedius is the earliest deaf person in recorded history known by name.[14][15]
  • 96–135 A.D.: Saint Ovidius is the patron saint of curing auditory disease.[16]
  • 131: Galen, a Greek physician from Pergamon wrote "Speech and hearing share the same source in the brain…"[17]
  • 700: St. John of Beverley in England purported to restore speech in a deaf boy by making signs of a cross across the tongue and taught him to speak the alphabet.[citation needed]
  • 738: In Justinian Code, Emperor Justinian deduced that deaf and mute are two different traits and are not always together. This insight is spelled out for Byzantine citizens with deafness, with limited rights.[18] (in Latin).[19]
  • Dark and Middle Ages: Deaf adults are objects of ridicule and are committed to asylums because their speech and behaviors were viewed as people being possessed by demons.[citation needed]
  • c. 1400: Teresa de Cartagena, 15th Century Spanish nun who had become late-deafened, was exceptional in her time in confronting her disability and gaining fame as a religious writer (and is nowadays reckoned as one of the earliest feminist writers).
  • 1500s: Geronimo Cardano was the first physician to recognize the ability of the deaf to reason and tries to teach his son using a set of symbols.
B, C, D. Engravings by Diego de Astor of Reducción de las letras y arte para enseñar a hablar a los mudos (Bonet, 1620)
  • 1550: Pedro Ponce de León is credited as the first teacher of the deaf history as he developed a form a sign language and successfully teaches speech to deaf people from birth. Pedro Ponce successfully taught some deaf pupils in Spain to speak, read, and write; and it is assumed that his methods were followed by Juan Pablo Bonet, who, in 1620, published the first book on the subject of manual alphabetic signs for the deaf. It wasn’t until 1885 that it was published in England as Simplification of the letters of the alphabet and method of teaching deaf-mutes to speak.[20] This gave rise to a wider interest in the education of the deaf in Europe.
  • 1640s: George Dalgarno proposed a totally new linguistic system for use by deaf mutes, which is still used today in the United States.
  • 1640 until around 1653: John Bulwer proposed in several books educating deaf people using "Chirologia: or the naturall language of the hand".
  • 1664: Thomas Willis discovered the role of the cochlea in relation to hearing
  • 1664: Johannes Bohn (1640–1718) refuted the theory that deaf and dumbness was caused by a connection of facial and aural nerves.
  • 1668: Both William Holder and John Wallis, an English mathematician, taught a deaf man to speak "plainly and distinctly, and with a good and graceful tone."[21]
  • 1690–1880: 200 immigrants from Kent county that carried either dominant or recessive genes of deafness settled at Martha's Vineyard. All inhabitants whether deaf or not were equal and established the American School for the Deaf in 1817.
  • 1755: Samuel Heinicke was a German oral teacher of the deaf who started the first oral school for the deaf in the world.
  • 1760: Abbe Charles-Michel de l'Épée of Paris founded the first free school for the deaf with sign language as a method of communication. This model of deaf school concept spread all over the European countries for the next hundred years. (33 schools established with this model)
  • 1760: French Sign "methodical signs" ("signes méthodiques") established.
  • 1778: Samuel Heinicke of Leipzig Germany, promoted Oralism, a method of teaching deaf children spoken and written language through speech and lip-reading exclusively without use of sign language.
  • 1817: The American School for the Deaf was founded in Hartford, Connecticut. This was the first school for children with special needs anywhere in the western hemisphere.[22]
  • 1850s: A Deaf State is proposed.
  • 1857: The Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind (known today as Gallaudet University) opened.
  • 1860: The British colony of Victoria opens its first school for the deaf in Melbourne, Victorian College for the Deaf,
  • 1864: The U.S. Congress authorized the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind to confer college degrees, and President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law. Edward Miner Gallaudet was made president of the entire corporation, including the college. It was the first college in the world established for people with disabilities, and is now known as Gallaudet University.[22]
  • 1872: Alexander Graham Bell promotes deaf education and opens a school in 1872 for deaf people. He also however encourages Oralism and Eugenics.
  • 1880: The World Congress of the Educators of the Deaf met in Milan, Italy and passed a resolution to promote Oralism in deaf education all over the world and dismiss all deaf teachers out of deaf schools.
  • 1880: National Association of the Deaf (United States) established.
  • 1892: Electrical hearing aid invented.
  • 1896: The first woman (Julia Foley) was elected to the board of the United States National Association of the Deaf.[23]
  • 1958: PL 85-905, which authorized loan services for captioned films for the deaf, became law in the U.S.[24]
  • 1960s: TDD was made possibly by Paul Taylor, which brings the communication distance closer between deaf people.
  • 1960: William Stokoe wrote the first linguistic book and defense of American Sign Language as a language.
  • 1960: The Junior United States National Association of the Deaf was established.[23]
  • 1964: Phone for deaf invented by Robert Weitbrecht, who is also deaf.
  • 1964: Women members of the United States National Association of the Deaf were first allowed to vote.[23]
  • 1965: Black members were first accepted into the United States National Association of the Deaf.[23]
  • 1965: The National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, was established by the U.S. Congress.[22]
  • 1972: The first Miss Deaf America Pageant (called the Miss Deaf America Talent Pageant until 1976) was held during the United States National Association of the Deaf Convention in Miami Beach, Florida; the winner was Ann Billington.[25][26]
  • 1972: Program Captioning introduced by The Caption Center at WGBH in Boston; the country's first nationally broadcast captioned program is the open captioned The French Chef. It airs on PBS. By 1980 closed captioning is developed and the first show broadcast. Closed captioning hides the text from view unless the user has a decoding device. By 1993, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission requires that all newly manufactured televisions have the decoding chip.
  • 1973: 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.[27]
  • 1975: 94-142 Education of All Handicapped Children Act passed.[28]
  • 1978: The National Center for Law and the Deaf was founded in Washington, D.C.[22]
  • 1980: Gertrude Galloway became the first female president of the United States National Association of the Deaf.[23]
  • 1988: A Deaf President Now student demonstration was held at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. on March 13 Dr. I. King Jordan was named the first Deaf president of the university.[22][29]
  • 1990: Americans with Disabilities Act passed.
  • 1995: Cochlear Implant Approved for people 18 and older.
  • 1996: Gallaudet University Gallaudet College is renamed Gallaudet University.[30]
  • 2006: Unity for Gallaudet Movement at Gallaudet University.
  • 2010: The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) was signed into law in the United States. It requires that unedited, full-length programs shown on TV with captions must also be captioned when they are made available online, with more requirements to be phased in at later dates.[31]
  • 2011: This year the Conservative Movement unanimously passed the rabbinic responsa, "The Status of the Heresh [one who is deaf] and of Sign Language," by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS).[32] This responsa declared that, among other things, "The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards rules that the deaf who communicate via sign language and do not speak are no longer to be considered mentally incapacitated. Jews who are deaf are responsible for observing mitzvot. Our communities, synagogues, schools, and camps must strive to be welcoming and accessible, and inclusive. Sign language may be used in matters of personal status and may be used in rituals. A deaf person called to the Torah who does not speak may recite the berakhot via sign language. A deaf person may serve as a shaliah tzibbur in sign language in a minyan whose medium of communication is sign language.[33]
  • 2012: The Supreme Court of India declared that a deaf and mute person need not be prevented from being presented as a witness in court merely on account of their physical disability. The court explained that a deaf and mute person can testify in writing or through gestures.[34][35]
  • 2012: Netflix announced that it will offer closed captions on all TV and movie content from September 2014 as part of a settlement with a deaf viewer from Massachusetts (Lee Nettles) who sued the company.[36] In 2012, a federal judge in Springfield, Massachusetts ruled in that lawsuit that Netflix and other online providers that serve the public are subject to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the first ruling in the country to recognize that Internet-based businesses are covered by the act.[36]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Fischer, Renate. Looking back: A reader on the history of deaf communities and their sign languages (Gallaudet University Press, 1993).
  • Greenwald, Brian H.. and Joseph J. Murray, eds. In Our Own Hands: Essays in Deaf History, 1780–1970 (Washington: Gallaudet University Press, 2016). xviii, 270 pp.
  • van Cleve, J., ed. Deaf history unveiled: Interpretations from the new scholarship (Gallaudet University Press, 1993)
  1. ^ Krentz, Christopher (2000). A Mighty Change: An Anthology of Deaf American Writing 1816-1864. Gallaudet University Press. ISBN 1-56368-101-3.
  2. ^ a b Baynton, Douglas (1996). Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign against Sign Language. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-03964-1.
  3. ^ Kyle, Jim G.; Woll, Benice (1988). Sign Language: The Study of Deaf People and Their Language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 12. ISBN 9780521357173 – via Google Scholar.
  4. ^ Stewart, David Alan (1991). Deaf Sport: The Impact of Sports Within the Deaf Community. Gallaudet University Press. pp. XI, 1. ISBN 0-930323-74-2 – via Google Scholar.
  5. ^ a b Bahan, Harlan Lane ; Robert Hofstadter ; Ben (1996). A journey into the deaf-world. San Diego, Calif.: DawnSignPress. ISBN 0-915035-63-4.
  6. ^ "Home | Deaflympics". Deaflympics. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  7. ^ "8 Things You Don't Know About Matt Hamill". UFC. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  8. ^ "Famous Deaf People". Start ASL.
  9. ^ "Prominent Deaf People".
  10. ^ ""Sound and Fury"". Newark, New Jersey. 2002-01-08. Public Broadcasting Service. WNET Missing or empty |series= (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Deaf and Dumb in Jewish Laws". Retrieved 2011-03-20.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Moore, Brooke Noel; Bruder, Kenneth (1999). "4". Philosophy: The Power of Ideas. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-7674-0018-3. Retrieved 2011-03-19. Alt URL
  13. ^ Bauman, H.-Dirksen L. (2008) [2002]. "7". Open your eyes (7th ed.). Deaf Studies Think Tank (Gallaudet University): University of Minnesota Press. pp. 135–137 [137]. ISBN 978-0-8166-4619-7. Alt URL
  14. ^ Renate, Fischer; Harlan L. Lane (1993-01-01). "Looking back: a reader on the history of deaf communities and their sign languages". International Studies on Sign Language and the Communication of the Deaf. 20. ISBN 3927731323. Retrieved 2011-03-19. Quintus Pedius, the deaf painter
  15. ^ Fischer, Renate; Lane, Harlan (1993-01-28). Renate Fischer; Harlan Lane (eds.). Looking Back: A Reader on the Histories of Deaf Communities and Their Sign Languages. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press. ISBN 978-3-927731-32-5.
  16. ^ Borrelli, Antonio. "Sant' Audito (Ovidio) di Braga" (in Italian). Retrieved 2011-03-20. Patron saint of ear
  17. ^ Markides, Andreas (1982). "Some unusual cures of deafness". The Journal of Laryngology & Otology. 96 (6): 479–490. doi:10.1017/S0022215100092756. PMID 7045260. Speech and hearing share the same source in the brain…
  18. ^ See Timothy Kearley, Justice Fred Blume and the Translation of the Justinian Code Archived 2012-03-11 at the Wayback Machine (2nd ed. 2008) 3, 21.
  19. ^ Justinian I (738). "Corpus Juris Civilis" (PDF) (in Latin). Roman Empire. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
  20. ^ "Language Pathology, Juan Pablo Bonet 1579-1633". Judy Duchan's History of Speech. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  21. ^ W. Holder, "Of an experiment, concerning deafness", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 3 (1668), 665–8
  22. ^ a b c d e "Disability History Timeline". Rehabilitation Research & Training Center on Independent Living Management. Temple University. 2002. Archived from the original on 2013-12-20.
  23. ^ a b c d e "NAD History". 15 January 2017.
  24. ^ "The History of Inclusion in the United States".
  25. ^ "Women and Deafness".
  26. ^ "Miss Deaf America Pageant".
  27. ^ "American Deaf Culture Historical Timeline". Archived from the original on 2012-05-06.
  28. ^ "Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act)". Seattle Community Network. Archived from the original on 3 August 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  29. ^ Fleischer, Doris (2001). The Disability Rights Movement. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-812-6.
  30. ^ "Deaf HistoryTimeline". 2014-07-16.
  31. ^ "New FCC rules on closed captioning fall short, deaf say". Washington Times. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  32. ^ "JWI". JWI.
  33. ^ "JDRC Salutes Conservative Judaism's Ruling to Include Deaf Jews as Equals". 20 June 2011.
  34. ^ Firstpost. "Deaf-mute can be credible witness: Apex court". Firstpost. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  35. ^ "Deaf-mute can be credible witness: SC - The Times of India". Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  36. ^ a b "Netflix pledges to caption all content by 2014 - Business". Retrieved 2012-10-11.