This new translation of the historic work by the Abbé de l’Epée offers the comprehensive, authentic edition that scholars have been waiting for. A translator’s preface, historical introduction, annotations, and other scholarly contributions will help readers interpret this classic volume in deaf education.
This volume presents the first complete English translation of the Abbé de l’Epée’s seminal work describing his methodology for educating deaf children. Originally published in French in 1798, this modern annotated edition offers readers a translation that is documentary in scope and that reflects historic attitudes toward deaf people and deaf education while maintaining the conventions of contemporary English.
De l’Epée provides an anecdotal account of his methods and philosophy for educating deaf children using a sign system based on the French Sign Language of the era but adapted to visually represent the linguistic features of spoken and written French. His work laid the foundation for the use of the “manual method,” or sign language, in deaf education. One section of the text, originally published in Latin, outlines the intellectual clash between de l’Epée and Samuel Heinicke, an early proponent of oral education who contested the use of sign language.
De l’Epée’s text holds significant cultural and historical value for the fields of deaf studies and deaf education. This English language translation reveals de l’Epée’s own story of how he came to be known as the “father of the deaf” and is enriched by scholarly contributions that provide essential historical context and a framework for modern understanding.
Akbar Sikder is a hearing child of two deaf parents and grew up bilingual in English and British Sign Language (BSL). He studied translation and interpreting at the University of Manchester, and now works as both a BSL/English interpreter and as the executive director of an interpreter training center. He has published on the lack of ethnic diversity in the signed language interpreting profession and was a founding member of the Interpreters of Colour Network (IOCN), where he also served on the board. In 2022, he was awarded the IOCN Evolution Award in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to the network and the signed language interpreting profession.”