American Sign Language Research Paper

Submitted By ninatinanina
Words: 1868
Pages: 8

Special Education 113
Final Written Exam
Mon, Wed, Fri 11:00-11:50

1. American Sign Language is a widely used language throughout the world. American Sign Language has developed greatly since its beginnings. The first known sign language system was discovered in France during the mid-eighteenth century. This system was formally known as Old French Sign Language which was created by deaf individuals in France. Charles Michel De L'Eppe, who was a French priest, was considered the “Father of Sign Language and Deaf Education.” He was also the establisher of the first free public school for the deaf in Paris. The beginning of L’Eppe’s deaf school in Paris evolved from him watching two deaf sisters communicate by signing. L’Eppe realized that the deaf could be educated by sign language. Gradually, L”Eppe created a sign language dictionary, worked on signing himself, and worked on educating the deaf which soon evolved throughout the world. American Sign Language really began in 1814 when Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (a minister from Hartford, Connecticut) wanted to help his neighbor Mason Fitch Cogswell who had a deaf nine year old daughter named Alice. Gallaudet had little success teaching Alice since he knew very little about educating the deaf. Gallaudet decided to travel to Europe since there was a history of deaf education there thanks to Charles Michel De L'Eppe. Many graduates of Charles Michel De L'Eppe had created their own deaf school. In Europe, Gallaudet met Laurent Clerc who had been educated by Abbe Sicard. Abbe Sicard was Charles Michel De L'Eppe’s successor at the National Institute for Deaf-Mutes. Gallaudet took private lessons from Clerc who was considered to be one of the best teachers at the institute. Gallaudet convinced Clerc to travel back to America to help found the first school for the deaf. It was called the American Asylum, but it is now known as the American School for the Deaf and is located in Hartford, Connecticut. It was established in 1817 as the first public free deaf school in the U.S. Together they began to teach sign language to Americans and they developed a unique sign language in the United States. This was a huge success in America and students came from all across the country to attend this school. As a result of these students coming from various parts of the United States, the students brought their own signs with them. The American Sign Language was greatly influenced by the French Sign Language created by Clerc, as well as signs from Martha’s Vineyard community, and the signs of the Great Plains Native Americans. By 1863, there were twenty-two deaf schools in the U.S. Most of these schools were begun by Clerc’s students. Later, Gallaudet’s son Edward Miner Gallaudet became a teacher at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford. Edward wanted to establish a deaf college. In 1857, Edward became the superintendent of the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind in Washington, D.C. In 1864, the Columbia Institute’s college division (the National Deaf-Mute College) was opened. In 1986, this college was renamed Gallaudet University and is known today as the first and only deaf university in the world. The development of the American Sign Language helped to end the discrimination of deaf people (at that time in history, deaf and blind people were considered to be mentally defective), as well it provided the deaf with an opportunity for an education just like their fellow hearing peers. Sign language had now evolved throughout the world and is used world-wide.

2. Deaf culture is a way for the Deaf community to gather together anywhere and everywhere in the world. Language and culture cannot be divided and are passed down through generations of people. Deaf culture exists so that Deaf people can have and develop their own Deaf network and keep in touch with everyone. The Deaf culture exists so that this community can get together, relax and enjoy everything while