Education of the deaf

Education of the deaf

Education of the deaf consists of two main approaches: manualism and oralism. Manualism is the education of deaf students using sign language and oralism is the education of deaf students using spoken language. Since the beginning of the 18th century, these two philosophies have been on opposing sides of a heated debate that continues to this day, although many modern deaf educational facilities attempt to integrate both approaches.


The learning process debate

Manualists claim that oralists neglect the psychosocial development of deaf children, and that the extensive practice required leaves students with less time and energy to advance academically and socially. Manualists believe oralist teaching methods result in inadequate skills and often poor speaking ability despite the great effort invested. They also feel that what is most important is giving deaf children a visual-motor language they can truly master, so as to enable their intellect to develop normally.

Oralists claim that manualists neglect the residual hearing in deaf children and that their emphasis on sign language isolates them from wider culture and hearing family members, thus serving to restrict them to a limited subculture that leaves them unable to succeed in the general population. They would also point to higher levels of educational success and assimilation into hearing society for deaf individuals.[1][2] Manualists would reply that while the concerns of isolation used to be true, the general change in attitude toward those who are deaf and hard of hearing, the advent of various alternative communication devices, and federal and state laws protecting their rights have given rise to greater accessibility and inclusion in many areas of life.[citation needed]

Oralists also point out that only a tiny percentage of the general population can use sign language: for example, the most recent estimates place the number of ASL users in the United States at roughly between 100,000 and 500,000, or between 0.03% and 0.15% of the population[3], and BSL users in the UK are estimated at 145,000[4], or about 0.2% of the population.

Another manualist concern is that many deaf children may not accomplish proficiency in lip-reading and other oralist techniques due to the great degree of time and effort involved. This may change with the use of new computer speech instruction methods with visual feedback capabilities that can assist the deaf speaker's articulations and improve their sound production with much less time and effort involved. Similarly, speech reading (also known as lip reading) can also be done with computer programs at greater efficiency.

History of deaf education in the United States

See also


  1. ^ Baker, Kim (2004), "Oral Communication versus American Sign Language", Interdisciplinary Research Conference, Drury University, 
  2. ^ Stone, Patrick (August 1997), "Educating Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Auditory-Oral", ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education, 
  3. ^ Padden, C.A. (1987). Sign languages. In J.V. Van Cleve, Ed., Gallaudet encyclopedia of Deaf people and deafness. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  4. ^ IPSOS Mori GP Patient Survey 2009/10

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