As I write my story sharing my thoughts about the L’Abbe Charles-Michel de L’Epee—who claimed to be the “father of sign language” which I have my doubts. If Socrates said in a book, Cratylus—Deaf people are intelligent because of sign language. Who was the father of sign language back then? That was 2,400 years’ way before L’Epee claimed to be the father of sign language. The only reason that L’Epee established the first free public school for the Deaf in Paris making him also the father of Deaf Education.
How can it be possible? I mean, who taught Deaf people sign language that time in Ancient Greece? There must be someone who looked up to the person who considered to be father of sign language. L’Epee was born in 1712—the dark hours of wars going on in other parts of world. For example, 1712 Huilliche Rebellion, New York Slave Revolt of 1712, Toggenburg War, and First Fox War—that’s a lot of wars that year!
The Era of Sign Language brought about many changes: economic shifts, the changes of roles concerning Deaf people in society: This was a very difficult time in Deaf world, and is disputed by many historians or is it not? Many changes came into effect. The importance of sign language left out a very important perspective: that of the freedom of using sign language by Deaf person anywhere in the world. Also, this limited view was based on the concept that Deaf people do not deserve political power, and were faced with ignorance from their hearing peers or—hearing supremacists.
Changes in this distorted historical account was made in 1880 Milan Resolution where Deaf survivors from that era started feeling the greatest pain of all through writings. In 1890s, the earlier prejudiced view of history was totally changed, and was improved to include the views of Deaf people thanks to Alexander Graham Bell known as AGBell who advocated Oralism in America.
How does AGBell connect or reflect the addressment of the subject or connected subject? The improved views of history that includes all bigotry, hatred, and language belittlement, not just the hearing supremacists that encouraged hate crimes after AGBell’s death in 1922, even today in 2016, hate crimes in Deaf community has surfaced—year after year thanks to Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, yet, it has became invisible to our eyes—is something Deaf people deal with growing pains every day, and how important it is to analyze history with a critical eye.
There are plenty of bigotry going on today and tomorrow—how much the Era of Sign Language changed the lives of Deaf people, and how important this political and social change was to history, even though sign language and the abolition of 1880 Milan Resolution did not solve the debate over the meaning of freedom in American life.
Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier
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