Ancient Deaf History



?BC Ancient Jewish Law said, "Thou shalt not curse the deaf."

355BC Aristotle (a Greek philosopher) said, "People who are deaf from birth are also speechless. The Greek word for speechless also meant stupid.

340BC Socrates (another Greek philosopher) said, "If we could not speak we would talk with our hands, head an other parts of the body like deaf people."

?BC Roman records mention Quintus Pedius, a deaf painter. He is the first deaf person to be named in history.

200BC-200AD Ancient Greeks and Romans killed sick or disabled babies. Did they kill deaf babies?

Early AD The early Christian Church allowed weddings to be conducted in sign language!

600AD The Code of Justinian (a Roman law code) listed laws about deaf people;




Australian Deaf History


1790s James Kennedy, a convict was transported to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), was thought to be deaf.

1836 Henry Hallett (deaf) arrived in Adelaide on the "Africanine" from England. Henry Hallet married Martha Pike (thought to be the first white deaf person born in South Australia).

1850s The Gold Rushes. Deaf people such as FJ Rose and Thomas Pattison came to Australia from England and Scotland.

1860 Thomas Pattison started school classes for deaf children in Sydney.

1860 FJ Rose and Elizabeth Manning Telfer (his wife) began a school for deaf children in Melbourne. The first pupil was Lucy Lewis

1866 The Victorian Deaf and Dumb Institution was opened.

1866 Thomas Pattison was dismissed.

1874 The South Australian School for the Deaf began at Brighton.

1875 Sister Gabriel Hogan (deaf) arrived from Ireland with other Dominican nuns, and was involved in starting and running the Waratah school in Newcastle. The first pupil was Catherine Sullivan.

1883 Queensland began educating deaf and blind children. The Queensland Blind, deaf and Dumb institution was officially opened in 1893

1884 Victorian Deaf Society began (first called the Victorian Society for Promoting the Spiritual and Temporal Welfare of the Deaf and Dumb).

1889 South Australian Deaf and Dumb Mission established.

1897 Western Australian Deaf and Dumb Institute began.

1903 The Australasian Deaf and Dumb Association was founded (during a Congress and Interstate Cricket Match in Melbourne). It is not known when or why this association was finished.

1903 Queensland Adult Deaf and Dumb Mission established.

1904 In Tasmania, the Royal Society for the Blind and Deaf began (education for deaf children was added to a school for blind chilren).

1913 The Adult Deaf and Dumb Society of NSW began (544 Pitt Street) (now called Deaf Society of NSW)

1929 Silent Messenger was established and run by Deaf Society of NSW

1932 Australian Deaf and Dumb Association was founded.

1940-42 J.P. Bourke, a deaf man, printed and distributed a magazine, The Australian Deaf Citizen. It was very radical and criticised hearing people who tried to control deaf people.

1986 Australian Associatoin of the Deaf was founded. 2008 Australian Association of the Deaf renamed to Deaf Australia.

We dont know much about deaf aborigines before the arrival of white people. We also dont know whether there were deaf people among the first white settlers in Australia.

International Deaf History






Rudolphus Agricola, 1443-1485, was interested in the deaf and wrote a book " De Inventione Dialectica". He wrote that a person who is born deaf can express himself by putting down his thoughts in writing. The book was never published until 100 years later.

Girolamo Cardano, 1501-1576, was a Italian physicain concerned about his deaf child, Cardano came across Agricola's book. He agreed that the "sense of hearing and the use of spoken words were not indispensible to understanding ideas." Cardano also believed that the deaf need to learn to read and write. "True, it is difficult but possible." "We can, in reality, manifest our thoughts either with words or with gestures." Cardno invented some kind of code for teaching but did not purse it instead went on studying other medicines.

Pedro Ponce De Leon, 1520-1584, Catholic monk, established the world's first school for the deaf at the Monastery of San Salvador near Madrid, Spain where he taught until his death. "He taught the deaf mutes from birth to speak." Peter of Ponce first taught them "to write while showing them with his finger the object which was named by the written characters; then drilling them to repeat with the vocal organs the words which correspond to these characters." He was the inventor of this art and each puil reasoned very well. He kept records of his methods and results but were destroyed in a fire. "In spite of his success and the favorable publicity of his work, at his death it seemed to die with him."

Juan Pablo Bonet, 1579-1620. In 1620, he published his famous book "Simplification of Sounds and the Act of Teaching the Deaf to Speak." He beleived deaf-mute should be forced to learn one hand manual alphabet using pictures illustrating the position of the hand for each letter before learning to speak and lipreading.

John Bulwer, 1614-1684, was English physician published his first two books in 1644 "The Natural Language of the Hand" and another called "The Art of Manual Rhetoric." He was convinced that the "language of the hand" was "the one language that was natural in all men especially for the deafened in the use of a manual alphabet." In 1648, Bulwer published his famous book titled "The Deaf and Dumb Man's Friend." This was the first English book explaining "the subject of deafness and its accompaying language problems, but had no bearing on the actual teaching of deaf persons."

George Dalgarno, ?-1687. In 1680 Dalgarno published a book titled "The Deaf and Dumb Man's tutor." In this book, he had many theories of the different ways of teaching language to the deaf. He knew that the deaf could be taught to speak and lipread, but he felt that using the manual alphabet was more practical. He advised mothers to spell out on their fingers and at the same time point to the obejct she was naming.

Johamn Konrad Ammna, 1698 - 1774, was a doctor of medicine, but was interested in trying to educate deaf mutes. He only worked on youths between eight and fifteen years of age. He watned his pupils to have "a good clear voice and to control it well." He learned that they "could feel the vibrations of his voice," he placed "their hands on his throat as he taught." He also had his pupils use mirrors in the speech practice. Lipreading was also part of the language achievement. He published two books, one in 1692 written in Latin an the other in 1700 called "A Dissertion on Speech."

Jacobo Rodriguez Pereira, 1715-1780. The greatest teacher of the deaf in France. Pereira never had more than twelve pupils at one time. He offered two courses. "For the poorer and more numerous clients, he gave a short course of fifteen months which covered the current necessities for living". The wealthy and more intelligent stayed four or five years. They were given a superior course. These pupils became successful and famous. He was very secret about his work that even his family did not know his methods. When he died, no one knew how to continue his work. His motto was "There will be no more deaf mutes. There will be deaf speaking ones."

Charles Michel De L'Eppe, 1712-1780. H was born in Versailles, France. He was a priest for 25 years and then later became interested in teaching the deaf. In 1760, he started a shelter for the Deaf in Paris and started teaching deaf children in school conditions in Truffaut, France in 1762/63. There he lived with them, attending to their physical needs, supplying food, clothing and shelter as well as education." In 1776, he published a book "Instruction of Deaf and Dumb using Methodical Sign." He also wrote a dictionary primarliy as "The Dictionary for the use of Deaf Mutes" and contained "more explanations than signs." He was "famous in all of Europe for his work with deaf mutes."

Abbe Roch Sicard, 1742-1822. He was chosen by the Archbishop of Bordeaux to be trained by De L'Eppe to be a teacher of the deaf and then appointed him director of the school. Sicard opened the school for the deaf in Bordeaux, France in 1782. In 1792, the September Massacres of the French Revolution broke out and Sicard was imprisioned and almost lost his life. He was in hiding for two years but during that time wrote a book "Theory of Signs," an elaborate dictonary of signs.

Samuel Heinicke, 1727-1790. Heinicke's methods were strictly oral. He strongly opposed using sign language. He got interested in the deaf after meeting a young deaf mute boy. After reading Amman's book "The Speaking Deaf", he started to teach the boy. Heinicke was very successful; the boy learned to speak, lipread and write. he was so pleased and he decided to teach other deaf pupils to understand oral speech as well as written communication. In 1778, he opened the first oral school for the deaf in Germany. He is known as the "Father of the German method."

Thomas Braidwood, 1715 - 1806. "The most outstanding name in England, concerned with the education of the deaf was that of a Scotsman, Thomas Braidwood." He founded Britain's first school in 1760 as private academy for the deaf in Edinburgh. The school moved to Hackney in London, England in 1783. In his school mean of communication until oral language could be established, he accepted natural gestures and signs, and recommended a two-hand alphabet which is still in use in England today. His grandson John Braidwood founded the first school for the deaf in USA in 1812 in Cobb, Viriginia, but it was short lived.

J.F.L. Arnoldi, a German pastor, he taught lipreading speech, reading and writing. He believed in natural approach to language teaching. He felt that children of ages four and five could learn faster and easier the articulation of speech but the "development of ideas were more rapid in ten and eleven year olds. His main goal was to teach reading to his pupils." He described and published his mthods in a book in the year 1777.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, 1787 - 1851. He first went to England to "study the oral methods of the Braidwoods." He applied for admission but because of complications he was denied. Sciard was in Paris lecturing at this time. Gallaudet went to Sicard and told him his mission. He was immediately invited to Paris to visit the school. He stayed getting their training, attending classes and receiving private lessons. He returned to America with Laurent Clerc and proceed to cofound the first America school for the deaf with Laurent Clerc.

Laurent Clerc, 1785 - 1869. He was a deaf student who studied under De L'Eppe and Sciard. He graduated from and taught at the Royal Institution for the deaf in Paris. He met an American, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. "Gallaudet had numerous opportunities to observe the brilliant work of Clerc, whom he called a master teacher. Clerc accepted Gallaudet's offer to open the first school for the deaf in America. Clerc and gallaudet arrived in America and raised the needed funds to open a school for the deaf. In April 15, 1817, their mission was accomplished successfully and the first America school for the deaf called First Home of Connecticut Asylum was established at Hartford, Connecticut. Clerc went on to become the most important influence on the education of the deaf in the first half of the nineteenth century. His career as a teacher in America covered 41 years.









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