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Friday, March 2, 2018

March ---- Deaf History Month

One of the immediate thoughts that comes to mind when you think of someone that is deaf is sign language. Individuals from the deaf community feel at home within their own deaf world. As a young girl, I stayed with a family for a short period of time. It was the family of my dad's boss and also one of my best friends. Her brother, while only a few years older than us, did not live at home. He lived near a deaf school that he attended and lived near the community where other hard of hearing individuals lived. The deaf culture is a global culture where many around the world who suffer from hearing loss live. The Deaf world do not consider being deaf a disability. They see the world as their world as a language minority. 

The history of the deaf world is one that those who know sign language are proud of. In 1816 a deaf educator from France came to the United States. Laurent Clerc would help build the first permanent school for deaf children in the United States. Many times the lives of the deaf population came up for discussion. From building a state of their own to the well known 1880 rule on the Education of the Deaf where they attempted to remove sign language from the classroom. The thought was to teach only in oral method there was much debate today the thought is behind lip reading with limited use or no use of sign language. The thought has presented debate of what is the best way to teach. For most sign language is part of the deaf world and should remain. 

Debate over where the system of sign language came about is part of the deaf history as well. Sign language may have originally came from the rudiment devise of pointing and gesturing to make one understood. Juan Pablo de Bonet authored a book containing the first known manual alphabet system in 1620. The hand shapes represented different speech sounds. Others believe that it was the deaf community living in and around Martha's Vineyard that invented sign language. Martha Vineyard Massachusetts was the home to many who suffered from deafness due to hereditary. The community devised a "language" to communicate with each other. 

The first public school for the deaf was established in Paris France in 1771. Abbe Charles Michel de L'Epee was the instructor who was given credit for the establishment and education the deaf with standard sign language that he was thought to create. Others disagree on the fact that many children from all over the world including Marthas vineyard came to the school and brought along their own forms of sign language. 

America would have their first school for the deaf shortly after the school established in France. In 1817 Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet created the first school in America and are also credited with establishing the American Sign Language. The combination of the students sign language and french sign language established a combination known as American Sign Language. 

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