For "Children Who Vary..."

Chapter Four continued...
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It became the American Asylum at Hartford in May 1819 (and is now known as the American School for the Deaf). Similar institutions in other states soon followed. By 1880 there were fifty- five institutions, many of which received financial support from state governments, providing education to deaf individuals. Numerous founders of and teachers at these other institutions trained at Hartford.

Until the 1860s these schools relied almost exclusively on the use of manual signs for teaching and communication. Then, in the late 1860s, schools emphasizing the oral method of instruction opened in New York City (the New York Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes, later the Lexington School for the Deaf) and Northampton, Massachusetts (the Clarke Institution for Deaf-Mutes). The oral method had originated in Germany and constituted a pointed alternative to signing both as a means of communication and as a statement on the nature of the relationship between the deaf and hearing communities. Clerc's and Gallaudet's staunch advocacy of manualism was countered by Horace Mann and Samuel Gridley Howe, who visited Europe in 1843 and prepared a glowing report on oral instruction in German and Prussian schools. The report, included in Horace Mann's Seventh Annual Report as secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, led to a "fire-storm" of controversy regarding the proper education of deaf people. Oralism found its most influential advocate in Alexander Graham Bell, who for the next several decades argued forcefully in its favor as a means to integrate the deaf community more effectively with the world of the hearing and reduce what he considered the highly negative effects of a segregated deaf culture that relied on signing as an exclusionary means of communication.

The pitched battle between oralism and a combined method of communication based on signing was fully joined by the 1870s; it yielded serious, at times even bitter, confrontations between and among educators of the deaf in the professional literature, at professional conferences, and in the popular press. The combined method drew strength from near- universal acceptance of the use of signing as established at the American School for the Deaf and employed by most residential institutions for the deaf in the United States. Proponents of the combined method argued that signing was a legitimate, albeit alternative, method of communication among people.

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