History of the deaf

The recorded history of sign language in Western society extends from the 16th century, as a visual language or method of communication. Sign language is a system of conventional gestures, mimic, hand signs and finger spelling, the use of hand positions to represent the letters of the alphabet. Signs usually represent complete ideas, not only words. Sign language is mainly used by deaf and mute people in order to communicate.

Development of Sign Language

Sign Languages have existed since deaf people have been around. Universally, where the deaf can be found, a manual form of conveying communication can also be found.

The written history of sign language began in the 17th century in Spain. In 1620, Juan Pablo Bonet published "Reducción de las letras y arte para enseñar a hablar a los mudos" (‘Reduction of letters and art for teaching dumb people to speak’) in Madrid. It is considered the first modern treaty of phonetics and speech therapy, setting out a method of oral education for the deaf people by means of the use of manual signs, in form of a manual alphabet to improve the communication of the deaf people.

From the language of signs of Bonet, Charles-Michel de l'Épée published his alphabet in the 18th century, which has arrived basically unchanged until the present time.

Standardized sign languages have been used in Spain and Italy since the 17th century and in France since the 18th century for the instruction of the deaf. Old French Sign Language was developed and used in Paris by the l’Abbé Charles Michel de l’Epée in his school for the deaf. These languages were always modeled after the natural sign languages already in use by the deaf cultures in their area of origin, often with additions to show aspects of the grammar of the local spoken languages.

In 1755, Abbé de l'Épée founded the first public school for deaf children in Paris. His lessons were based upon his observations of deaf people signing with hands in the streets of Paris. Synthesized with French grammar, it evolved into the French Sign Language. Laurent Clerc, a graduate and former teacher of the French School, went to the United States with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to found an American School for the deaf.

The 18th permanent school for the deaf was established in Hartford, Connecticut; others followed. In 1817, Clerc and Gallaudet founded the American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb (now the American School for the Deaf). In 1864, a college for deaf people was founded in Washington D.C. Its enabling act was signed by Abraham Lincoln and was named “The National Deaf-Mute College” (later "Gallaudet College" (1894) and then renamed "Gallaudet University") in 1986.


Engravings of "Reducción de las letras y arte para enseñar a hablar a los mudos" (Bonet, 1620):

ee also

*History of ASL
*Sign language

External links

* [http://www.asd-1817.org/history/history-asd.html History of sign language in the United States] (American School for the Deaf Website).
* [http://www.rnid.org.uk/about/rnid_history/ History of the Royal National Institute for Deaf People] (sign language in the UK).
* [http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/history1.htm American Sign Language (ASL) History Lesson]
*Pablo Bonet, J. de (1620) [http://bibliotecadigitalhispanica.bne.es:80/webclient/DeliveryManager?application=DIGITOOL-3&owner=resourcediscovery&custom_att_2=simple_viewer&pid=180918 "Reduction de las letras y Arte para enseñar á ablar los Mudos"] , Biblioteca Digital Hispánica (BNE).


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Deaf Club — Deaf Club Location Valencia Street, San Francisco, California, U.S. Type music Genre(s) punk Opened 9 December 1978 Closed summer 1980 The Deaf Club …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Macedonians (ethnic group) — The history of the Macedonian people is closely associated with the historical and geographical region of Macedonia, and is manifested with their constant struggle for an independent state. After many decades of insurrections and living through… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (1954-present) — The History of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (1954 present) encompasses the History of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from its suppression under Nasser to its formation into the largest opposition bloc in the Egyptian parliament. The… …   Wikipedia

  • The Learning Center for the Deaf — Infobox School name =The Learning Center for the Deaf motto = Where Innovation is a Tradition established =1970 type =Private, publicly funded affiliation = district = grades = president = principal = head of school = dean = faculty = staff =… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the United States Merchant Marine — See also: United States Merchant Marine This article is part of the U.S. Maritime History series. Maritime history of Colonial America 1776–1799 1800–1899 1900–1999 2000 The mariti …   Wikipedia

  • History of the British salt tax in India — Taxation of salt has occurred in India since the earliest times. However, this tax was greatly increased when the British East India Company began to establish its rule over provinces in India. In 1835, special taxes were imposed on Indian salt… …   Wikipedia

  • 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… …   Wikipedia

  • Education of the Deaf — • History, aids, and alphabets are discussed Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • North Carolina School for the Deaf — The North Carolina School for the Deaf is a state supported residential school for deaf children established in 1894, in Morganton, North Carolina, USA. Contents 1 History 2 Today 3 References 4 External links …   Wikipedia

  • Mississippi School for the Deaf — The Mississippi School for the Deaf (MSD) is a Mississippi school for the deaf and hard of hearing accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). It offers elementary and secondary education, covering students from pre… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.