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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Deaf And Dumb

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DEAF AND DUMB. 1 The term " deaf " is frequently applied to those who are deficient in hearing power in any degree, however slight, as well as to people who are unable to detect the loudest sounds by means of the auditory organs. It is impossible to draw a hard and fast line between the deaf and the hearing at any particular point. For the purposes of this article, however, that denotation which is generally accepted by educators of the deaf may be given to the term. This makes it refer to those who are so far handicapped as to be incapable of instruction by the ordinary means of the ear in a class of those possessing normal hearing. Paradoxical though it may seem, it is yet true to say that " dumbness " in our sense of the word does not, strictly speaking, exist, though the term " dumb " may, for all practical purposes, fairly be applied to many of the deaf even after they are supposed to have learnt how to speak. Oral teachers now confess that it is not worth while to try to teach more than a large percentage of the deaf to speak at all. We are not concerned with aphasia, stammering or such inability to articulate as may be due to malformation of the vocal organs. In the case of the deaf and dumb, as these words are generally understood, dumbness is merely the result of ignorance in the use of the voice, this ignorance being due to the deafness. The vocal organs are perfect. The deaf man can laugh, shout, and in fact utter any and every sound that the normal person can. But he does not speak English (if that happens to be his nationality) for the same reason that a French child does not, which is that he has never heard it. There is in fact no more a priori reason why an English 1 The two words are common to Teutonic languages, cf. Ger. taub and dumm (only in the sense of " stupid "), Dutch doof and dom; the original meaning seems to have been dull of perception, stupid, obtuse, and the words may be ultimately related. The Gr. TucpXos blind, and Ti or, smoke, mist, probably show the same base.

baby, born in England, should talk English than that it should. talk any other language. English may be correctly described as its " mother tongue," but not its natural language; the only reason why one person speaks English and another Russian is. that each imitated that particular language which he heard in infancy. This imitation depends upon the ability to hear. Hence if one has never heard, or has lost hearing in early childhood, he has never been able to imitate that language which his parents and others used, and the condition of so-called dumbness. is added to his deafness. From this it follows that if the sense of hearing be not lost till the child has learnt to speak fluently, the ability to speak is unaffected by the calamity of deafness, except that after many years the voice is likely to become high-pitched, or too guttural, or peculiar in some other respect, owing to the absence of the control usually exercised by the ear. It also follows that, to a certain extent, the art of speech can be taught the deaf person even though he were born deaf. Theoretically, he is capable of talking just as well as his hearing brother, for the organs of speech are as perfect in one as in the other, except that they suffer from lack of exercise in the case of the deaf man. Practically, he can never speak perfectly, for even if he were made to attempt articulation as soon as he is discovered to be deaf, the fact that the ear, the natural guide of the voice, is useless, lays upon him a handicap which can never be wiped out. He: can never hear the tone of his teacher's voice nor of his own; he can only see small and, in many instances, scarcely discernible movements of the lips, tongue, nose, cheeks and throat in those who are endeavouring to teach him to speak, and he can never hope to succeed in speech through the instrumentality of such. unsatisfactory appeals to his eye as perfectly as the hearing child can with the ideal adaptation of the voice to the ear. Sound appeals to the ear, not the eye, and those who have to rely upon. the latter to imitate speech must suffer by comparison.

Deafness then, in our sense, means the incapacity to be instructed by means of the ear in the normal way, and dumbness means only that ignorance of how to speak one's mother tongue which is the effect of the deafness.

Of such deaf people many can hear sound to some extent.. Dr Kerr Love quotes several authorities (Deaf Mutism, pp. 58 ff.) to show that 50 or 60% are absolutely deaf, while 25% can. detect loud sounds such as shouting close to the ear, and the rest. can distinguish vowels or even words. He himself thinks that not more than 15 or 20% are totally deaf - sometimes only 7 or 8%; that ability to hear speech exists in about one in four, while ten or fifteen in each hundred are only semi-deaf. He rightly warns against the use of tuning forks or other instruments held on the bones of the head as tests of hearing, because the vibration which is felt, not heard, may very often be mistaken for sound.

Dr Edward M. Gallaudet, the president of the College for the Deaf in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., suggests the following terms for use in dividing the whole class of the deaf into its main sections, though it is obviously impossible to split them up into perfectly defined subdivisions, where, as a matter of fact, you have each degree of deafness and dumbness shading into the next: the speaking deaf, the semi-speaking deaf, the mute deaf (or deaf-mute ), the speaking semi-deaf, the mute semi-deaf, the hearing mute and the hearing semi-mute. He points out that the last two classes are usually persons of feeble mental power. We should exclude these altogether from the list, since their hearing is, presumably, perfect, and should add the semi-speaking semi-deaf before the mute semi-deaf. This would give two main divisions - those wha cannot hear at all, and those who have partial hearing - with three subsections in each main division - those who speak, those who have partial speech and those who do not speak at all. Where the hearing is perfect it is paradoxical to class a person with the deaf, and the dumbness in such a case is due (where there is no malformation of the vocal organs) to inability of the mind to pay attention to, and imitate, what the ear really hears. In such cases this mental weakness is generally shown in other ways besides that of not hearing sounds. Probably no sign will. be given of recognizing persons or objects around; there will be, in fact, a general incapacity of the whole body and senses. It is incorrect to designate such persons as deaf and feeble-minded or deaf and idiotic, because in many cases their organs of hearing are as perfect as are other organs of their body, and they are no more deaf than blind, though they may pay no attention to what they hear any more than to what they see. They are simply weak in intellect, and this is shown by the disuse of any and all of their senses; hence it is incorrect to classify them according to one, and one only, of the evidences of this mental weakness.

YEAR.

NUMBER OF DEAF AND DUMB PERSONS.

United

Kingdom.

England

& Wales.

Scotland.

Ireland.

1851

17,649

10,314

2155

5180

1861

20,224

12,236

2335

5653

1871

19,159

11,518

2087

5554

1881

20,573

13,295

2142

5136

1891

20,781

14,192

2125

4464

1901

21,855

15,246

2638

3971

YEAR.

PROPORTION OF DEAF AND DUMB TO THE POPULATION.

United

England

Kingdom.

& Wales.

Scotland.

Ireland.

1851

I in 1550

I in 1739

I in 1340

I in 1264

1861

I in 1430

1 in 1639

I in 1310

I in 1025

1871

I in 1642

I in 1972

I in 1610

I in 974

1881

I in 1694

I in 1953

I in 1745

I in 1008

1891

I in 1814

I in 2040

1 in 1893

I in 1053

1901

I in 1897

I in 2132

I in 1694

I in 1122

1 Extent of Deafness

2 Causes of Deafness

3 2. Natural Language of the Deaf

4 Methods of Teaching

Extent of Deafness

The following table shows the number of deaf and dumb persons in the United Kingdom at successive censuses: - From this we find that the proportion of deaf and dumb to the population has been as follows: - There has, therefore, been on the whole a steady decrease of those described as " deaf and dumb " in proportion to the population in Great Britain and Ireland. But in the census for 1901, in addition to the 15,246 returned as " deaf and dumb " in England and Wales, 18,507 were entered as being " deaf," 2433 of whom were described as having been " deaf from childhood." Mr B. H. Payne, the principal of the Royal Cambrian Institution, Swansea, makes the following remarks upon these figures: - " The natural conclusion, of course. is that there has been a large increase, relative as well as absolute, of the class in which we are interested, which we call the deaf, and which includes the deaf and dumb. Indeed, the number, large as it is, cannot be considered as complete, for the schedules did not require persons who were only deaf to state their infirmity, and, though many did so, it may be presumed that more did not.

" On the other hand, circumstances exist which may reasonably be held to modify the conclusion that there has been a large relative increase of the deaf. The spread of education, the development of local government, and an improved system of registration, may have had the effect of procuring fuller enumeration and more appropriate classification than heretofore, while 1368 persons described simply as dumb, and who therefore probably belong, not to the deaf, but to the feeble-minded and aphasic classes, are included in the ' deaf and dumb ' total. It is also to be noted that some of those who described themselves as ' deaf ' though not born so may have been educated in the ordinary way before they lost their hearing, and are therefore outside the sphere of the operation of schools for the deaf.

" In connexion with the census of 1891, it has been remarked in the report of the institution that no provision was made in the schedules for distinguishing the congenital from the non-congenital deaf, and that it was desirable to draw such a distinction. To ascertain the relative increase or decrease of one or the other section of the class would contribute to our knowledge of the incidence of known causes of deafness or to the confirmation or discovery of other causes, and so far indicate the appropriate measures of prevention, while such an inquiry as that recommended has, besides, a certain bearing upon educational views.

" The exact number of ' deaf and dumb ' and ' deaf ' children who are of school age cannot be ascertained from the census tables, which give the numbers in quinquennial age-groups, while the school age is seven to sixteen. It is a pity that in this respect the functions of the census department are not co-ordinated with those of the Board of Education." Dr John Hitz,the superintendent of theVoltaBureau for theIncrease of Knowledge Relating to the Deaf, Washington, D.C., U.S.A., gives the number of schools for deaf children, and pupils, in different countries in 1900 as follows: - Africa.

Country.

Schools.

Teachers.

Pupils.

Algeria. .

I

3

37

Egypt. .

I

2

6

Cape Colony .

4

9 1

77

Natal

I

2

7

7

161

127

Asia.

Country.

Schools.

Teachers.

Pupils.

China. .

3

10

43

Indi

3

13

73

Japan. .

3

24

337

9

47

453

Australasia.

Country.

Schools.

Teachers.

Pupils.

Australia .

6

41

282

New Zealand .

1

5

50

7

46

332

Europe.

Country.

Schools.

Teachers.

Pupils.

Austria-Hungary

38

291

2440

Belgium. .

12

181

1265

Denmark. .

5

57

348

France. .

71

598

4098

Germany .

99

798

6497

Great Britain .

95

462

4222

Italy

47

234

2519

Luxemburg .

I

3

22

Netherlands .

3

74

473

Norway. .

5

54

309

Portugal. .

2

9

64

Rumania .

I

3

46

Russia, Finland,

Livonia .

34

118

1719

Servia .

2

21

261

Spain. .

II

60

462

Sweden

9

124

726

Switzerland .

14

84

650

Turkey. .

I

45 0

3152

25,886

North America.

Country.

Schools.

Teachers.

Pupils.

Canada. .

7

130

768

United States .

126

1347

10,946

Mexico. .

I

13

46

Cuba

I

1 35

1490

11,760

South America.

Country.

Schools.

Teachers.

Pupils.

Argentine. .

4

18

133

Brazil. .

I

9

35

Chile

I

7

61

Uruguay .

1

7

34

229

1 Incomplete.

Continent.

Schools.

Teachers.

Pupils.

Africa. .

7

16

127

Asia.. .

9

47

453

Australia. .

7

46

332

Europe .

450

3152

25,886

North America .

135

1490

11,760

South America .

7

34

229

615

4785

38,787

These figures refer only to deaf children who are actually under instruction, not to the whole deaf population.

While it is gratifying to find that so much is being done in the way of educating this class of the community, the number of schools in most parts of the world is still lamentably inadequate. For instance, taking the school age as from seven to sixteen, which is now made compulsory by Act of Parliament in Great Britain, and assuming that 20% of the deaf population are of that age, as they are in England, there should be 40,000 deaf pupils under instruction in India alone, whereas there are but seventy-three. There are 200,000 deaf of all ages in India. And what an enormous total should be in schools in China instead of forty-three ! The whole of the rest of Asia, with the exception of Japan, has apparently not a single school. There must be many thousands of thousands of deaf (hundreds of thousands, if not thousands of thousands of whom are of school age) in that continent, unless indeed they are destroyed, which is not impossible. What are we to say of Africa, where only Too pupils are being taught; of South America, with its paltry 200, and Australia's 300 ? To come to Europe itself, Russia should have many times more pupils than her 1700. Even in Great Britain the education of the deaf was not made compulsory till 1893, and there are many still evading the law and growing up uneducated. Mr Payne of Swansea estimated (Institution Report, 1903-1904) from the 1901 census, that there must be approximately 204 deaf of school age in South Wales and Monmouthshire, while only 144 were accounted for in all the schools in that district according to Dr Hitz's statistics.

Dr Kerr Love (Deaf Mutism, p. 217) gives the following table, which shows the number of deaf people in proportion to the population in the countries named: Switzerland .

Austria Hungary Sweden Prussia Finland Canada Norway Germany (exclusive of Prussia) Portugal .

Ireland .

India.. United States Denmark. Greece France Italy Scotland. Cape Colony England Spain Belgium. Australasia. Holland Ceylon .

According to a tabular statement of British and Colonial schools, June 1899, the proportion of those born deaf to those who lost hearing after birth was, at that time and in those countries, 2126 to 1251, as far as returns had been made. Several schools had, however, failed to give statistics. These figures show a proportion of nearly 59% congenitally deaf persons to over 41% whose deafness is acquired. Professor Fay, whose monumental work, Marriages of the Deaf in America, deserves particular attention, mentions (p. 38) that of 23,931 persons who attended American schools for the deaf up to the year 1890, 9842, or 41%, were reported as congenitally deaf, and 14,089, or 59%, as adventitiously deaf, - figures which exactly reverse those just quoted. The classification of deafness acquired in infancy with congenital deafness by some other authorities (giving rise to the rather absurd term ” toto-congenital ” to describe the latter) is unscientific. There is reason for the opinion that the noncongenital, even when hearing has been lost in early infancy, acquire language better, and it is a mistake from any point of view to include them in the born deaf.

1 The figures for England, Scotland and Ireland, according to the 1901 census, are different and have been given above.

Other statistics vary very much as to the proportion of born deaf, some being as low as a quarter, and some as high as three-quarters, of the whole class. We can only say, speaking of both sides of the Atlantic, and counterbalancing one period with another, that the general average appears to be about 50% for each. Probably the percentage varies in different places for definite reasons, which we shall now briefly consider.

Causes of Deafness

These may be considered in two divisions, pre-natal and post-natal.

1. Pre-Natal. - A small percentage of these is due, it seems, to malformation of some portion of the auditory apparatus. Another percentage is known to represent the children of the intermarriage of blood relations. Dr Kerr Love ( Deaf Mutism, p. 117) gives statistics from thirteen British institutions which show that on a general average at least 8% of the congenitally deaf are the offspring of such marriages. Besides this, little is known. Beyond all doubt a much larger percentage of deaf children are the offspring of marriages in which one or both partners were born deaf than of ordinary marriages. But inquiries into such phenomena have generally been directed towards tracing deafness and not consanguinity, or at least the inquirer has rarely troubled to make sure whether the grandparents or great-grandparents on either side were relations or not. Such investigations rarely go beyond ascertaining if the parents were related to each other, though we have proof that a certain tendency towards any particular abnormality may not exhibit itself in every generation of the family in question. To give an illustration, suppose that G is a deaf man. Several inquirers may trace back to the preceding generation F, and to the grandparents E, and even to the great-grandparents D, in search of an ancestor who is deaf, and such they may discover in the third generation D. But probably not one of these several inquirers will ask G if any of his grandparents or greatgrandparents married a cousin, for instance, though they may ask if his father did. To continue this hypothetical case, the investigators will again trace back along the family tree to generations C, B and A in search of an original deaf ancestor, on whose shoulders they seek to lay the blame of both D's and G's deafness. Not finding any such, they will again content themselves with asking if D's parents (generation C) were blood relations or not, and, receiving an answer in the negative, desist from further inquiry in this direction, assuming that D's deafness is the original cause of G's deafness. They do not, we fear, inquire if any grandparents or great-grandparents (hearing people) were related, with the same persistency as they ask if any were deaf. The search for deafness is pushed through several generations, the search for consanguinity is only extended to one generation. Perhaps if it were carried further, it would be discovered that A married his niece, and there lay the secret of the deafness in both D and G. In other words, the deafness in D is not the cause of that in G, but the deafness in both D and G are effects of the consanguineous marriage in A. All this is, however, merely by way of suggestion. We submit that if deafness in one generation may be followed by deafness two or even three generations later, while the tendency to deafness exists, but does not appear, in the intermediate generations, it is only logical to inquire if deafness in the first discoverable instance in a family may not be caused by consanguinity, the effect of which is not seen for two or three generations in a similar manner. Moreover it is probable that consanguinity in parents or grandparents may often be denied. An exhaustive investigation along these lines is desirable, for we believe that congenital deafness would be proved to be due to consanguinity in hearing people, if the search were pushed far enough back and the truth were told, in a far greater percentage of cases than is now suspected. This is not disproved by quoting numbers of cases where no deafness follows consanguinity in any generation, for resulting weakness may be shown (where it exists) in many other ways than by deafness.

This theory receives support from the statistics quoted by Dr Kerr Love (Deaf Mutism, p. 132), where the percentage of defective children resulting from the consanguineous marriages of hearing people increases in almost exact proportion to the nearness of affinity of the parents. It is further borne out by in 408 765 792 977 981 981 1003 1052 107 4 1333 ?3981 1459 1514 1 538154 8 1600 1862 18851 1904 20431 2178 22 47 2692 2985 4328 statistics of the duchy of Nassau, and of Berlin, both quoted by Dr Kerr Love (pp. 119, 120). These show r deaf person in 1397 Roman Catholics, 1101 Evangelicals and 508 Jews in the former case, and r in 3000 Roman Catholics, 2000 Protestants and 400 Jews in the latter. When we are told that " Roman Catholics prohibit marriages between persons who are near blood relations, Protestants view such marriages as permissible, and Jews encourage intermarriage with blood relations," these figures become suggestive. We find the same greater tendency to deafness in thinly-populated and out-of-the-way districts and countries where, owing to the circle of acquaintances being limited, people are more likely to marry relations.

NUMBER OF

MARRIAGES.

NUMBER OF

CHILDREN.

PERCENTAGE.

MARRIAGES OF THE

5

'

DEAF.

Total.

¢,

Total.

Deaf.

? 5

?.

' ,<!-.

G3 ,-,

cd +; 0

cn

Q 7,

U

One or both partners

deaf

3078

300

6782

588

9.7

8.6

Both partners deaf .

2 377

220

5072

429

9.2

8.4

One partner deaf, the

other hearing .

599

75

1 53 2

151

12.5

9.8

One or both partners

congenitally deaf .

1 477

1 94

3401

413

13.1

12.1

One or both partners

adventitiously deaf

2212

124

47 01

1 99

5.6

4'2

Both partners con-

genitally deaf .

335

8 3

779

202

2 4.7

25.9

One partner congenit-

ally deaf, the other

adventitiously deaf

814

66

1820

119

8.1

6.5

Both partners adven-

titiously deaf .

8 45

30

1720

4 0

3'5

2.3

One partner congenit-

ally deaf, the other

hearing.

191

28

528

63

14.6

II.9

One partner adven-

titiously deaf, the

other hearing .

310

10

713

16

3.2

2.2

Both partners had

deaf relatives .

437

103

1060

222

23.5

20.9

One partner had deaf

,relatives, the other

had no

541

36

1210

78

6.6

6.4

Neither partner had

deaf relatives .

471

II

1044

13

2.3

I.2

Both partners con-

genitally deaf; both

had deaf relatives

172

49

429

130

28.4

30.3

Both partners con-

genitally deaf; one

had deaf relatives,

the other had not .

49

8

105

21

16.3

20.0

Both partners congen-

itally deaf; neither

had deaf relatives

14

I

24

I

7.1

4.1

Both partners ad-

ventitiously deaf;

both had deaf re-

latives

57

10

114

II

17.5

9.6

Both partners adven-

titiously deaf; one

had deaf relatives,

the other had not .

167

7

357

pp

4.1

2.8

Both partners ad-

ventitiously deaf;

neither had deaf

relatives. .

284

2

550

2

0.7

0'3

Partners consanguine-

ous

31

14

100

30

45.1

30.0

With regard to the question of marriages of the deaf, Professor Edward Allen Fay's work is so complete that the results of his six years' labour are particularly worthy of notice, for, as the introduction states, the book is a ' ` collection of records of marriages of the deaf far larger than all previous collections put together," and it deals in detail with 4471 such marriages. The summary of statistics is as follows (Marriages of the Deaf in America, p. 134): One point deserves special attention in the above list. It is that where there are no deaf relatives (i.e. where there has not been a history of deafness in the family) only one child out of twenty-four is deaf, even when the parents were both born deaf themselves. Where there were deaf relatives already in the family on both sides, and the parents were born deaf, the percentage of deaf children is seven and a half times as great. This seems to show that there are causes of congenital deafness which are, comparatively speaking, unlikely to be transmitted to future generations, while other causes of congenital deafness are so liable to be perpetuated that one child in every three is deaf. We conjecture that one original cause of congenital deafness which reappears in a family is consanguinity-for instance, the intermarriage of first or second cousins (hearing people) in some previous generation. Out of the 2245 deaf persons who were born deaf, 269 had parents who were blood relations, according to Fay. And perhaps many more refrained from acknowledging the fact. Eleven had grandparents who were cousins. This theory calls for investigation, and while the marriage of deaf people is not encouraged, it is fair to ask those who so strenuously oppose such unions whether they may not be spending their energies on trying to check an effect instead of a cause, and if that cause may not really be consanguinity,-witness the percentage of deaf people among Roman Catholics, Protestants and Jews before noticed. On the principle that prevention is better than cure it is the intermarriage of cousins and other relations which should be discouraged. The marriage of deaf people is inadvisable where there has been deafness in the family in former generations, but the same warning applies to all the other members of that family, for the hearing members are as likely to transmit the defect of which deafness is a symptom as the deaf members are. We are more concerned to discover the primary cause of the defect, and take steps to prevent the latter from occurring at all. Those who have no dissuasions for hearing people, who might perhaps cause the misery, and only give counsel to those among the transmitters of it who happen to be deaf, are acting in a manner which is hardly logical.

2. Post - Natal. - We have collected and grouped the stated causes of deafness in those partners of the marriages in America noticed by Fay. About a hundred and thirty did not mention how they lost hearing. Any errors in this calculation must be less than 1% at most, and can make no material difference. In some cases two or more diseases are given as the cause of deafness. In such cases where one is a very common cause of deafness, and the other is unusual, the former is credited with being the reason for the defect. Where both are common, we have divided the cases between them in a rough proportion.

Scarlet fever 973; scarlatina 3; scarlet rash 2.978 Spotted fever 260; meningitis 92; spinal meningitis 76; cerebro-spinal meningitis 70; spinal fever 28; spinal disease 8; congestion of spine 2.536 Brain fever 309; inflammation of brain 62; congestion of brain 30; disease in brain 3

404 Typhoid 127; " fever " (unspecifi ed) 117; typhus 17; inter mittent fever 14; bilious fever II; other fevers 14.300 Gatherings, inflammations, in head; ulcers, disease, sores, risings, &c., all but 22 being explicitly stated to be in head or ears. 276 " Sickness " 167; " illness " 49; " disease " 8; no definite specification 12.236 Measles.. .. .. .. 191 Colds 101; colds in head, &c. 35; catarrh 19; catarrhal fevers 1 o; chills, &c. 17. .. 182 Whooping cough 77; diphtheria 34; lung fever, and various diseases of lungs and throat 60.171 Falls.. .. .. 143 Fits and convulsions 58; spasms 18; teething 16.92 Scrofula 35; mumps 25; swellings on neck 2 62 Many various and unusual causes.. 60 Smallpox 8; chickenpox 6; cholera, &c. 7; canker, &c. i i; erysipelas 13. .. .. 45 Paralysis, &c. '1 2; nerve diseases 12; fright 8; palsy 3 35 Hydrocephalus 14; dropsy on brain or in head 17; dropsy 2 33 Various accidents, blows, kicks, &c.. 31 Quinine 22; other medicines 7.. 29 Total 3804 We have counted a hundred and thirty of those who were returned as having lost hearing who were also stated to be the offspring of consanguineous marriages.

Dr Kerr Love (Deaf Mutism, p. 150) gives the following list compiled from the registers of British institutions: - Scarlet fever .

Miscellaneous causes. Teething, convulsions, &c. .

Meningitis, brain fever, &c.

Measles .

Falls and accidents. Enteric and other fevers Disease, illness, &c.. Whooping cough. Suppurative ear diseases Syphilis 1312 Unknown causes.. 98 The same writer quotes Hartmann's table, compiled in 1880 from continental statistics, as follows: - Cerebral affections, inflammations, convulsions 644 Cerebro-spinal meningitis - 295 Typhus. 260 Scarlatina 205 Measles .

Ear disease, proper 77 Lesions of the head 70 Other diseases. 354 1989 There appears to be no cure for deafness that is other than partial; but with the advance of science preventive treatment is expected to be efficacious in scarlet fever, measles, &c.

Condition of the Deaf. 1. In Childhood. - It is difficult to impress people with two facts in connexion with teaching language to the average child who was born deaf, or lost hearing in early infancy. One is the necessity of the undertaking, and the other is that this necessity is not due to mental deficiency in the pupil. To the born deaf-mute in an English-speaking country English is a foreign language. His inability to speak is due to his never having heard that tongue which his mother uses. The same reason holds good for his entire ignorance of that language. The hearing child does not know a word of English when he is born, and never would learn it if taken away from where it is spoken. He learns English unconsciously by imitating what he hears. The deaf child never hears English, and so he never learns it till he goes to school. Here he has to start learning English - or whatever is the language of his native land - in the same way as a hearing boy learns a foreign language.

But another reason exists which renders his task much more difficult than that of a normal English schoolboy learning, say, German. The latter has two channels of information, the eye and the ear; the deaf boy has only one, the eye. The hearing boy learns German by what he hears of it in class as well as by reading it; the deaf boy can only learn by what he sees. It is as if you tried to fill two cisterns of the same capacity with two inlets to one and only one inlet to the other; supposing the inlets to be the same size, the former will fill twice as fast. So it is in the case of the hearing boy as compared with his deaf brother. The cerebral capacity and quality are the same, but in one case one of the avenues to the brain is closed, and consequently the development is less rapid. Moreover, the thoughts are precisely those which would be expected in people who form them only from what they see. We were often asked by our deaf playmates in our childhood such questions (in signs) as " What does the cat say?" - " The dog talks, does he not ? " - "Is the rainbow very hot on the roof of that house? " They have often told us such things as that they used to think someone went to the end of the earth and climbed up the sky to light the stars, and to pour down rain through a sieve.

But there is yet a third disadvantage for the already handicapped deaf boy. He has no other language to build upon, while the other has his mother tongue with which to compare the foreign language he is learning. The latter already has a general idea of sentences and clauses, of tense and mood, of gender, number and case, of substantives, verbs and prepositions; and he knows that one language must form some sort of parallel to another. He is already prepared to find a subject, predicate and object, in the sentence of a foreign language, even when he knows not a word of any but his own mother tongue. If he is told that a certain word in German is an adjective, he understands what its function is, even when he has yet to learn the meaning of the word. All this goes for nothing in the case of the deaf pupil. The very elementary fact that certain words denote certain objects - that there is such a class of word as substantives - comes as a revelation to most deaf children. They have to begin at seven laboriously and artificially to learn what an ordinary baby has unconsciously and naturally discovered at the age of two. English, spoken, written, printed or finger-spelled, is no more natural, comprehensible or easy of acquirement to the deaf than is Chinese. The manual alphabet is simply one way of expressing the vernacular on the fingers; it is no more the deafmute's " natural " language than speech or writing, and if he cannot express himself by the latter nodes of communicating, he cannot by spelling on the fingers. The last is simply a case of vicaria linguae manus. None of these are languages in themselves; whether you use pen or type, hand or voice, you are but adopting one or other method of expressing one and the same tongue - English or whatever it may be, that of a " people of a strange speech and of a hard language, whose words they cannot understand." The deaf child's natural mode of communication - more natural to him than any verbal language is to hearing people - is the world-wide, natural language of signs.

2. Natural Language of the Deaf

We have just called signs a natural language. While a purist might properly object to this adjective being applied to all signs, yet it is not an unfair term to use as regards this method of conversing as a whole, even in the United States, where signs, being to a great extent the French signs invented by de 1'Epee, are more artificial than in England. The old story, by the way, of the pupil of de l'Epee failing to write more than " hand, breast," as describing what an incredulous investigator did when he laid his hand on his breast, proves nothing. In all probability he had no idea that he was expected to describe an action, and thought that he was being asked the names of certain parts of the body. The hand was held out to him and he wrote " hand." Then the breast was indicated by placing the hand on it, and he wrote " breast." Moreover, the artificial element is much less pronounced than is supposed by most of those who are loudest in their condemnation of signs, there being almost invariably an obvious connexion between the sign and idea. These critics are generally people whose acquaintance with the subject is rather limited, and the thermometer of whose zeal in waging war against gestures generally falls in proportion as the photometer of their knowledge about them shows an increasing light. We may go still further and point out that to object to any sign on the ground of artificiality per se, is to strain at the gnat and to swallow the camel, for English itself is one of the most artificial languages in existence, and certainly is more open to such an objection than signs. If we apply the same test to English that is applied to signs by those who would rule out any which they suppose cannot come under the head of natural gesture or pantomime, what fraction of our so-called natural language should we have left? For a spoken word to be " natural " in this sense it must be onomatopoetic, and what infinitesimal percentage of English words are such ? A foreigner, unacquainted with the language, could not glean the drift of a conversation in English, except perhaps a trifle from the tone of the voices and more from the natural signs used - the smiles and frowns, the expressions of the faces, the play of eyes, lips, hands and whole body. The only words he could possibly understand without such aids are some such onomatopoetic words as the cries of animals - " mew," " chirrup," &c., and a few more like " bang" or "swish." The reason why we insist emphatically upon the importance of teaching English in schools for the deaf in English-speaking countries, is, firstly, because that is the language which the pupil will be called upon to use in his intercourse with his fellow-men 331 175 171 166 138 122 119 37 33 2 after he leaves school, and secondly, because, if his grasp of that tongue only be sufficient and his interest in books be properly aroused, he can go on educating himself in after-life by means of reading. Time tables are overcrowded with kindergarten, clay modelling, wood-carving, carpentry, and other things which are excellent in themselves. But there is not time for everything, and these are not as important in the case of the deaf pupil as language. Putting aside the question of religion and moral training, we consider the flooding of their minds with general knowledge, and the teaching of English to enable them to express their thoughts to their neighbours, to be of paramount importance, so paramount that all other branches of education in their turn pale into insignificance by comparison with these, while the question of methods of instruction should be subservient to these main ends. Too many make speech in itself an end. This is a mistake. Speech is not in itself English; it is only one way of expressing that language. And we are little concerned to inquire by what means the deaf pupil expresses himself in English so long ' 1234 5678 9 ' Observations. - People speak of ` manual signs.' Of course there are signs which are made with the hands only, as there are others which are labial, &c. But the sign language is comprehensive, and at times the whole frame is engaged in its use. A late American teacher could and did ` sign ' a story to his pupils with his hands behind him. Facial expression plays an important part in the language. Sympathetic gestures are individualistic and spontaneous, and are sometimes unconsciously made. The speaker, feeling that words are inadequate, reinforces them with gesture. Arbitrary signs are, e.g., drumming with three separated fingers on the chin for ` uncle.' Grammatical signs are those which are used for inflections, parts of speech, or letters as in the manual alphabet, and some numerical signs, though other numerals may be classed as natural; also signs for sounds, and even labial signs. Signs, whether natural or arbitrary, which gain acceptance, especially if they are shortened, are ` conventional.' ` Mimic action ' refers, e.g., to the sign for sawing, the side of one hand being passed to and fro over the side or back of the other. ' Pantomime ' means, e.g., when the signer pretends to hang up his hat and coat, roll up his sleeves, kneel on his board, guide the saw with his thumb, saw through, wipe his forehead, &c." Illustrations of one style of numerical signs are given below.

FIG. I.

as he does so express himself, whether by speech or writing or finger-spelling--for if he can finger-spell he can write. It is not the mere fact that he can make certain sounds or write certain letters or form the alphabet on his hands that should signify. It is the actual language that he uses, whatever be the means, and the thoughts that are enshrined in the language, that should be our criterion when judging of his education.

The importance of English is insisted upon because to place the deaf child in touch with his English-speaking fellow-men we must teach him their language, and also because he can thereby educate himself by means of books if, and when, he has a sufficient command of that language. The reason is not because the vernacular is actually superior to signs as a means of conversation. The sign language is quite equal to the vernacular as a means of expression. The former is as much our mother tongue, if we may say so, as the latter; we used one language as soon as the other, in our earliest infancy; and, after a lifelong experience of both, we affirm that signs are a more beautiful language than English, and provide possibilities of a wealth of expression which English does not possess, and which probably no other language possesses.

That others whose knowledge of signs is lifelong hold similar opinions is shown by the following extract from The Deaf and their Possibilities, by Dr Gallaudet: " Thinking that the question may arise in the minds of some, ` Does the sign language give the deaf, when used in public addresses, all that speech affords to the hearing? ' I will say that my experience and observation lead me to answer with a decided affirmative. On occasions almost without number it has been my privilege to interpret, through signs to the deaf, addresses given in speech; I have addressed hundreds of assemblages of deaf persons in the college, in schools I have visited, and elsewhere, using signs for the original expression of thought; I have seen many more lectures and public debates given originally in signs; I have seen conventions of deaf-mutes in which no word was spoken, and yet all the forms of parliamentary proceedings were observed, and the most earnest, and even excited, discussions were carried on. I have seen the ordinances of religion administered, and the full service of the Church rendered in signs; and all this with the assurance growing out of my complete understanding of the language - a knowledge which dates from my earliest childhood - that for all the purposes enumerated gestural expression is in no respect inferior, and is in many respects superior, to oral, verbal utterance as a means of communicating ideas." The following is an analysis of the sign language given by Mr Payne of the Swansea Institution, together with his explanatory notes: - Analysis of the Sign Language.

I. Facial expression.

I. Sympathetic II. Gesture 2. Representative (= Natural signs) 3. Systematic (a) Arbitrary signs (b ) Grammatical signs III. Mimic action.

IV. Pantomime.

Units are signified with the palm turned inwards; tens with the palm turned outwards; hundreds with the fingers downwards; thousands with the left hand to the right shoulder; millions with the hand near the forehead. For 12, sign to outwards and 2 inwards, and so on up to 19.21 = 2 outwards, I inwards, and so on up to 30.146 = I downwards, 4 outwards, 6 inwards. 207,837 = 2 downwards, 7 inwards (both at shoulder), 8 downwards, 3 outwards, 7 inwards. 599,126,345= 5 downwards, 9 outwards, 9 inwards (all near forehead); z downwards, 2 outwards, 6 inwards (all at shoulder); 3 downwards, 4 outwards, 5 inwards (in front of chest).

Only the third, and a few of the second, subdivision of the second section of the above classes of signs can be excluded when talking of signs as being the deaf-mute's natural language. In fact we hesitate to call representative gesture - e.g. the horns and action of milking for " cow," the smelling at something grasped in the hand for " flower," &c. - conventional at all, except when shortened as the usual' sign for " cat " is, for instance, from the sign for whiskers plus stroking the fur on back and tail plus the action of a cat licking its paw and washing its face, to the sign for whiskers only.

The deaf child expresses himself in the sign language of his own accord. The supposition that in manual or combined schools generally they "teach them signs" is incorrect, except that perhaps occasionally a few pupils may be drilled and their signs polished for a dramatic rendering of a poem at a prize distribution or public meeting, which is no more " teaching them signs " than training hearing children to recite the same poem orally and polishing their rendering of it is teaching them English. If the deaf boy meets with some one who will use gesture to him, a new sign will be invented as occasion requires by one or other to express a new idea, and if it be a good one is tacitly adopted to express that idea, and so an entire language is built up. It follows that in different localities signs will differ to a great extent, but one who is accustomed to signing can readily see the connexion and understand what is meant even when the signs are partly novel to him. We are sometimes asked if we can make a deaf child understand abstract ideas by this language. Our answer is that we can, if a hearing child of no greater age and intelligence can understand the same ideas in English. Signs are particularly the best means of conveying religious truths to the deaf. If you wish to appeal to him, to impress him, to reach his heart and his sympathies (and, incidentally, to offer the best possible substitute for music), use his own eloquent language of signs. We have conversed by signs with deaf people from all parts of the British Isles, from France, Norway and Sweden, Poland, Finland, Italy, Russia, Turkey, the United States, and found that they are indeed a world-wide means of communication, Conventional especially in shortened form.

even when we wandered on to most unusual and abstract subjects. Deaf people in America converse with Red Indians with ease thereby, which shows how natural the generality of even de l'Epee signs are. The sign language is everybody's natural language, not only the deaf-mute's.

Addison (Deaf Mutism, p. 283) quotes John Bulwer as follows:- " What though you (the deaf and dumb) cannot express your minds in those verbal contrivances of man's invention: yet you want not speech who have your whole body for a tongue, having a language which is more natural and significant, which is common to you with us, to wit, gesture, the general and universal language of human nature." The same writer says further on (p. 297): " The same process of growth goes on alike with the signs of the deaf and dumb as with the spoken words of the hearing. Arnold, than whom no stronger advocate of the oral methoa exists, recognizes this in his comment on this principle of the German school, for he writes: 'It is much to be regretted that teachers should indulge in unqualified assertions of the impossibility of deaf-mutes attaining to clear conceptions and abstract thinking by signs or mimic gestures. Facts are against them.' Again, Graham Bell, who is generally considered an opponent of the sign system, says: ' I think that if we have the mental condition of the child alone in view without reference to language, no language will reach the mind like the language of signs; it is the method of reaching the mind of the deaf child.' The opinions of the deaf themselves, from all parts of the world, are practically unanimous on this question. In the words of Dr Smith, president of the World's Congress of the Deaf held at St Louis, Missouri, in 1904, under the auspices of the National Association of the Deaf, U.S.A., " the educated deaf have a right to be heard in these matters, and they must and shall be heard." A portion may be quoted of the resolutions passed at that congress of 570 of the best-informed deaf the world has ever seen, at least scores, if not hundreds, of them holding degrees, and being as well educated as the vast majority of teachers of the deaf in England: " Resolved, that the oral method, which withholds from the congenitally and quasicongenitally deaf the use of the language of signs outside the schoolroom, robs the children of their birthright; that those champions of the oral method, who have been carrying on a warfare, both overt and covert, against the use of the language of signs by the adult deaf, are not friends of the deaf; and that, in our opinion, it is the duty of every teacher of the deaf, no matter what method he or she uses, to have a working command of the sign language." It is often urged as an objection to the use of signs that those who use them think in them, and that their English (or other vernacular language) suffers in consequence. There is, however, no more objection to thinking in signs than to thinking in any other language, and as to the second objection, facts are against such a statement. The best-educated deaf in the world, as a class, are in America, and the American deaf sign almost to a man. It is true that at first a beginner in school may, when at a loss how to express himself in words, render his thoughts in sign-English, if we may use the expression, just as a schoolboy will sometimes put Latin words in the English order. That is, the deaf pupil puts the word in the natural order of the signs, which is really the logical order, and is much nearer the Latin sequence of words than the English. But, firstly, if he had always been forbidden to use signs he would not express himself in English any better in that particular instance; he would simply not attempt to express himself at all, - so he loses nothing, at least; and secondly, it is perfectly easy to teach him in a very short time that each language has its own idiom and that the thought is expressed in a different order in each.

Of the deaf child's moral condition nothing more need be said than that it is at first exactly that of his hearing brother, and his development therein depends entirely upon whether he is trained to the same degree. The need of this is great. He is quite as capable of religious and moral instruction, and benefits as much by what he receives of it. Happiness is a noticeable feature of the character of the deaf when they are allowed to mix with each other. The charge of bad temper can usually be sustained only when the fault is on the side of those with whom they live. For instance, the latter often talk in the presence of the deaf person w


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Deaf And Dumb'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/d/deaf-and-dumb.html. 1910.

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