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Volume 14 2, No. 3, 1997 The Value of the Sign-Language to the Deaf President of the National Deaf-Mute College, Washington, D.C. EdwardM.GallaudetandAlexanderGrahamBell,deeplydividedoversign language vs. English in the education of deaf children, are spoofed in the Silent Echo, published by the Institution of the Deaf and Dumb at Winnepeg, Manitoba, Oct. 1, 1882. Gallaudet University Archives. A few isolated instances are recorded, previous to the last century, of deaf persons who, under favor able conditions, have developed for their own use a measurably complete language of signs. But it was only toward the middle of the eighteenth century that this language was used by considerable numbers of * Extracted, by permission, from an article in Buck's "Reference Handbook of the Medical Sciences " (William Wood and Company, New York, 1886), entitled "The Language of Signs, and the Combined Method of Instructing Deaf-Mutes." deaf-mutes. Before describing this general use, however, it is important to consider, somewhat carefully, the limitations as to means of communication which absolute deafness imposes on those who suffer from it. The means of expression possible to creatures of intelligence, by which information as to thought and feeling may be given and received, are five in number, corresponding to the senses. All expression , i.e., all communication from one intelligent being to another, must, therefore , be either audible, visible, tactile, odoric, or palatal. The senses of taste and smell are addressed so rarely and with such difficulty, for the purpose of communicating thought, that they may be left out of view. The same may be said of the sense of touch, except that, in the case of persons both blind and deaf, it becomes the main channel of communication, and may be made useful under certain conditions with such as are only deaf; as, for example, in the dark or when it is desirable to address the deaf without diverting the eye from some object—such as a landscape, a passing pageant or spectacle. George Dalgarno, in his curious and interesting work "Didascalocophus," or "The Deaf and Dumb Man's Tutor," published in Oxford in 1680, presents an alphabet arranged upon the palm of the hand, certain letters being associReprintedfromGallaudet ,E.M.1887.AmericanAnnalsoftheDeaf,32(3),141-147. Volume 142, No. 3, 1997 American Annals of the Deaf aMERICAN ANNALS OF THE DEAF The Value of the Sign-Language to the Deaf ated with certain joints and other parts of the hand, by the use of which one may communicate with a deaf person without demanding the attention of his eyes, his hand being touched by the fingers of the speaker so that words are rapidly spelt. The Morse telegraph alphabet may also be made use of in communicating through the sense of touch, by giving taps or pressures of varying length as to time, the hand of one resting lightly on the arm of the other. Visible expression employs a great variety of forms in the accomplishment of its purpose, but these forms may be grouped in two perfectly distinct classes; the gestural, which produce their effects only from moment to moment, having no enduring quality, and the graphic, which are more or less permanent. Audible expression, almost infinite as it is in variety, is susceptible also of division into two great classes, articulate and inarticulate, the former comprising all forms of word utterance, and the latter including cries, moans, sighs, music, percussions, and explosions. Among all these possible means of transmitting intelligence from one to another, it will readily be seen that the three principal means of communicating thought and feeling made use of by man are: 1, articulate speech addressed to the sense of hearing; 2, gestural; and 3, graphic expression presented to the sense of sight. By gestural expression nmst be understood all positions and movements of the body or any of its members , including the countenance, and all noiseless signals, such as are made use of in military or engineering operations , on the sea, on roads, or on rivers. In short, all devices for communicating information through the eye of man, which are not in any manner recorded or made permanent. Graphic expression will then include all...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0375
Print ISSN
0002-726X
Pages
pp. 27-30
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-11
Open Access
No
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