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Cecile Carpenter Methods for Teaching the Deaf Lynn Spradley, the daughter of Tom and Louise Spradley,

was born in 1964(Spradley). She was born deaf because her mother and older brother, Bruce, were both exposed to Rubella (Spradley). Louise took Bruce to the doctor who said it wasnt a big deal, though he did ask if Louise was pregnant (Spradley). She told him that if she was it was only by a few days and thats when the doctor told her that rubella can cause congenital defects in the children of mothers exposed to rubella (Spradley). Those words lead to 9 months of anxiety, especially when Louise got a rash on her arm while they visiting Toms parents (Spradley). She went to their old doctor who gave her a vaccination anyway and told her that there only a 25% chance that a baby would have defects if the mother had rubella in the first 3 months of pregnancy (Spradley). When Lynn was born in April 1965 with no obvious signs of retardation, no missing limbs, and with her eyes and ears looking okay, she was declared a perfectly normal baby girl! (Spradley). Then at the July 4th parade they noticed that the piercing sound of the fire sirens didnt seem to faze a sleeping baby Lynn (Spradley). So her parents started a series of tests at home to find out definitely if Lynn could hear or not (Spradley). When she was about 18 months old she was taken to an audiologist who discovered Lynn could hear at 65 decibels which put her in the moderately-severe range (56 to 70 dB) of hearing loss, but she would have to be tested again at age 2 when she could be fitted with a hearing aid. Their quest to discover how to help Lynn took the Spradleys in many directions, mostly to proponents of the Oral method of teaching deaf children, most notably to the John Tracy Clinic,

C. Carpenter, 2 because the preferred teaching method of educators of the deaf at that time was to try to teach the deaf to hear and speak (Spradley). Given the climate in the U.S. and Europe at the time, its easy to understand how the Spradleys got caught up in the middle of the debate between Oralists and Sign Language proponents as to the best way of teaching the deaf. Deafness has historically been considered a type of solitary confinement because even in the middle of the cacophony of life the deaf were considered unreachable (Dolnick). Even in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, Mosaic law has special laws for the deaf concerning marriage and property-rights, as well as having rules to protect the deaf from being cursed, though it does preclude them from participating fully in rituals and being witnesses in the courts based on the belief that being deaf disallows the person from participating fully. They may be able to speak which is allowable, but because the Deaf cannot hear they are missing half the equation to being a righteous Jew. In Greek culture it was thought the deaf were uneducable, and Aristotle is quoted as saying about the deaf, . . . it is impossible to reason without the ability to hear ("Milan"). Years later, St. Augustine is quoted as saying about the deaf, Faith comes only through hearing, which presumably goes back to Mosaic law ("Milan"). And the Romans believed deafness to be a greater flaw than any other disability because Roman law forbade the inheritance of family fortunes by those who couldnt speak, and presumably that law included those who could still hear but had problems with speaking ("Milan"). Its unknown if the Roman elite employed special teachers to help their deaf children to speak, but its highly doubtful. And in 1765 an English legal authority established a precedent that declared, A man born deaf or blind is looked upon by law as in the same state with an idiot (Valentine).

C. Carpenter, 3 So it is a bit surprising that formal deaf education began in the early 1500s when a Spanish monk, Pedro Ponce de Leon, taught the 18-year-old son of a mayor to say a few words so he would be eligible to inherit from his father (Milan). Very often deaf sons of the rich were taught to perform speech in order to inherit, and to help the parents overcome the stigma of having had an abnormal child (Milan). Then in the late 1500s came Manuel Ramirez de Carrion who began teaching the deaf using a phonetic method (Milan). He is seen as the inventor of speech training, and also invented a model tongue so the deaf could learn vowel sounds (Milan). He claimed to be able to teach the deaf to speak (Milan). Later came Juan Pablo Martin Bonet who published the first method for educating the deaf (Milan). This method taught the deaf to read, write and use a manual alphabet system for one hand (Milan). Thus the methods of these three men had a profound impact on the deaf in Europe and the UK (Milan). In France the first attempts to teach the Deaf began in earnest in 1749 when the French Academy of Sciences appointed a commission to determine if the deaf were capable of reasoning (Dolnick). Then a few years later came Charles-Michel Abb de lpe, a French priest who one day saw two deaf girls communicating in a signed language (Milan). Abb de lpe was concerned that because these girls were deaf, they, and other deaf people, could not receive the sacraments since they could not hear (Milan). Catholic doctrine held that failure to receive the sacraments would send the person to Hell (Milan). So Abb de lpe observed the girls signing for a while and was eventually able to pick up enough to have a simple conversation with them (Milan). Eventually he learned enough of their sign language to be able to communicate complicated religious ideas to them (Milan). Armed with this new knowledge, he then he opened the first shelter for the poor deaf in Paris in 1760, and

C. Carpenter, 4 subsequently, by 1762, he opened a school for the poor deaf (Milan). At that time, educational opportunities to the poor were minimal at best, and for the deaf poor it was nonexistent, so lpes school was immediately overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of students (Milan). And given the speed which his students learned this signed language, he quickly realized that teaching through sign language was both effective and efficient, and his educational system was very well-structured (Milan). He gradually invented new signs to correspond with the French grammatical structure (Milan). So from the 1780s deaf people were being educated and writing books, though most of the more prominent Deaf writers were French because education via sign language was considered normal (Milan). A student of lpes, Abb Roch-Ambroise Sicard, continued his work, opened a school of his own, and in 1818 he published an important study titled Theory of Signs, which included a grammar and dictionary of sign language (Milan). In America around 1811, a prominent businessman in Hartford Connecticut by the name of Mason Cogswell set about finding some way to teach his daughter who had become deaf at an early age (Valentine). After not finding any school to teach her in the US, and reluctant to send her to one of the schools in Europe, Cogswell decided to see if he could open a school in America by bringing the methods of the European schools to America (Valentine). A committee was formed to take up the question and a young, fresh out of the seminary Congregational minister by the name of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet agreed to take on the task of learning the best method to teach the deaf (Valentine). In Edinburgh, Scotland, Thomas Braidwood had developed a method now known as total communication to teach the deaf and opened a school there. Many of his students went on to become quite successful in Scotland and England (Milan). Later he opened a second

C. Carpenter, 5 school in London (Milan). Gallaudet went first to London and then to Edinburgh to learn the Braidwood method, but was rebuffed at both schools because their directors didnt want to share information that could cause them to lose their monopoly in the education of the deaf (Valentine). While in London, Gallaudet had attended an exhibition of students from the Paris Institution for the Deaf, the non-profit school established by Abb de lpe that offered free education to any poor, deaf French youth who applied (Valentine). Gallaudet was very impressed by the students and decided to travel to France to learn their methods (Valentine). There he met Abb Sicard who graciously granted his request for assistance (Valentine). Gallaudet soon realized that, after several months of classes, he would need years to become proficient enough to teach, so he decided to hire an instructor to bring back to Hartford (Valentine). He settled on Laurent Clerc, a deaf man who had been a student at the Paris school, and then a teacher of the schools most advanced students. Clerc agreed to a three-year contract (Valentine). At the time de lpe was doing his work with the deaf, Johann Conrad Amman, a Swiss doctor, wrote a book titled The Speaking Deaf (Milan). In it he stated quite strongly that the oral method was the best for teaching deaf people; that it was important for the deaf to be able to speak and to lip-read (Milan). This idea was followed by Samuel Heinicke who was developing his own oral approach for teach the deaf (Milan). This approach became known as the German Method (Milan). Thus began the Oral Method of teaching the deaf (Milan). And in France, lpe had a French rival; Jacob Rodrigues Pereire challenged Lpes work and legacy (Milan). Pereire had developed a secret method to teach the deaf orally (Milan). And though lpe had once invited Pereire to his school to see for himself that sign language was the best method, Pereire continued his work to discredit lpe (Milan).

C. Carpenter, 6 Then in 1878, Pereires son, Isaac, and grandson, Eugene, met with an exiled French oralist educator, Marius Magnat, and showed him the senior Pereires dusty manuscripts of the secret Oral method (Milan). They organized an exposition that tipped the scales of the Sign and Oral methods more toward the Oral side (Milan). And then in 1879 they set up the first so-called International Congress on the Education of the Deaf in Paris and heavily weighted the attendees with Oralist supporters (Milan). But there was also a strong contingent of supporters of the Combined System (using both sign and speech) and the Congress ruled that the Combined System was to be the favored method of teaching the deaf (Milan). But because of the success of the Congress it was decided to hold a second one, so an organizing committee was formed. Because there was already a large contingent of Oralists at the Congress, all the committee members were Oralists thus setting the stage for the snowball that was to become the most significant moment on the history of deaf education; known simply as Milan 1880 (Milan). Strong arguments continued on both sides of the Deaf Education debate and in September 1880 at the Second International Congress on the Education of the Deaf in Milan, the Oralists had set the stage and thus won the day by having the Oral method proclaimed the Only method by which the deaf will be educated in the future (Milan). This one event has had the most profound impact on the lives and education of the deaf, and one which almost eliminated sign language as the language of the deaf (Milan). Gradually signing schools were either converted to the oral method or closed; deaf teachers were fired and replaced by hearing only teachers who had no knowledge of sign (Dolnick). And with the advent of newer and newer electronic devices, hearing aids on deaf children became commonplace (Dolnick).

C. Carpenter, 7 So for the rest of the 19th and over half of the 20th Century the deaf were taught using the oral method. Sign was passed down secretly in the dorms of the residential schools, and those caught were punished in several ways including being forced to sit on their hands (Bollag). If one were to ask any Deaf person today about their schooling, those who went to oral schools tell of many different types of punishments including having their hands slapped with rulers or having them tied to their waists. The arguments against sign say that it was too natural meaning too primitive and animalistic and that speech was even more natural (Markotic). Among the medical community, their idea of deafness is based on many assumptions, the main one being that it is an abnormality that can be treated (Markotic). The result is that the doctors ended up having complete control because they had the remedy for deafness and they controlled how the child was to learn (Markotic). Parents were encouraged to go to extreme lengths to help teach their children to hear through the Oral Method, lengths that included in home microphones and headsets so they could learn to hear words and sounds (Markotic). Speaking on its own behalf, the Deaf community is telling the world that deafness is not a disability but a subculture and that they dont need to be cured (Dolnick). Today showing disregard for the deaf and stopping them from being part of society is unthinkable (Dolnick). But recognizing their rights and letting them have them are two different things because deafness is still seen as a terrible fate (Dolnick). According to Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, two deaf educators and linguists, The term disabled describes those who are blind or physically handicapped, not Deaf people (Dolnick). The only difference between an able-bodied hearing person and an able-bodied Deaf person is that the Deaf person cannot hear. We learn language from hearing it, so deaf children are at a loss. Lip movements are mysterious and lip-reading is a challenge to a child that has never heard language (Dolnick).

C. Carpenter, 8 Words like fifty and fifteen, mama and papa, cat and hat all look the same when there is no sound (Dolnick). Lip-reading is exhausting for the deaf because only half of it is ever understood (Dolnick). Deaf do poorly in tests of English skills (Dolnick). Cheryl Heppner, a deaf woman and the Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing says, even with peak conditions, good lighting, high energy level and a person who articulates well, Im still guessing at half of what I see on the lips (Dolnick). The main problem with this controversy over oral or signed methods is that all the evidence as to either methods efficacy is all empirical (Luckner). In 2005 there were 964 published articles both for and against either the oral method or the signing method, and only 22 included any description of interventions, control groups, etc., that was statistically independent of any other studies (Luckner). The U.S. Department of Education classifies hearing loss as a low-incidence disability, meaning that there are statistically fewer deaf students in public school than there are of other disabilities, and because of such a wide geographic distribution of deaf students, its hard to do any definitive studies (Luckner). There simply is no extant research of large groups studies (Luckner). There are those that will argue that teaching the deaf to speak and hear is paramount, hence sciences work on the Cochlear Implants. However when one speaks with any deaf person and hears the stories of them having their hands tied onto their chairs or waists, or having their hands hit with rulers and such, its hard to not let ones compassion explode and ones anger boil. Sign language is a natural language. Forcing the deaf community to be more like the hearing community is not right. Let the deaf have their language and learn in the best way possible. Oralists need to learn what Tom and Louise Spradley finally realized when they said, Sign Language is Lynns native language, and she had the right to use it (Spradley).

C. Carpenter, 9

Works Cited Bollag, Burton. "The debate over deaf education: technological changes are shaking up the teaching of the hearing impaired." The Chronicle of Higher Education 52.36 (May 12, 2006): A18(3). General OneFile. Gale. Web. 2 Nov. 2009 Dolnick, Edward. "Deaf Children Can Benefit from Mainstreaming." Current Controversies: The Disabled. Ed. Brenda Stalcup. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1997. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Web. 28 Oct. 2009 Luckner, John L. "Evidence-based practices with students who are deaf. (Report)." Communication Disorders Quarterly 28.1 (Fall 2006): 49(4). General OneFile. Gale. Web. 2 Nov. 2009 Markotic, Nicole. Oral Methods: Pathologizing the Deaf Speaker. Mosaic (Winnipeg) 34.3 (Sept 2001): 127. Academic OneFile. Gale. Web. 8 Oct. 2009 Milan 1880. milan1880.com. http://www.milan1880.com/ Web. 14 Oct. 2009 Spradley, Thomas S. and James P. Spradley. Deaf Like Me. Washington: Gallaudet University Press, 1985. Print. Valentine, Phyllis Klein. "A nineteenth-century experiment in education of the handicapped: the American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb." The New England Quarterly 64.n3 (Sept 1991): 355(21). Academic OneFile. Gale. Web. 28 Oct. 2009