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The Deaf Experience
Classics in Language and Education

Harlan Lane, Editor
Franklin Philip, Translator

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Gallaudet Classics in Deaf Studies, Volume 5

From the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Deaf History is being taught in an increasing number of secondary and postsecondary educational institutes today. In the United States, much of this history is based on the accounts that have been written in English. Yet, the early American Deaf History was strongly influenced by the educational philosophies and practices in France. Paris was the leading intellectual center of the deaf community in the 18th and 19th centuries, which gave rise to great Deaf leaders such as Saboureux de Fontenay, Pierre Desloges, Jean Massieu, and Ferdinand Berthier. Two hearing leaders during that time, Charles-Michel de L’Epée and Roch-Ambroise Sicard, are probably the most well known for their leadership of the deaf school in Paris that was the model school for many of the deaf schools that were established later in Europe and America. The writings of those Deaf and hearing leaders, who have contributed significantly to the development of pedagogy of deaf education, are included in this book that provide an excellent source of information on their perspectives on the deaf community, education, and language use during that era.

       Most of the translated writings in this book present an eloquent defense and promotion of signed languages and their use in Deaf Education. Following a brief chronology of Deaf History from the 1760s to 1840, Harlan Lane provides an introduction that summarized this history and briefly illustrated how it influenced Deaf Education up to the early 20th century. The introduction is followed by chapters that contain original works by seven of the luminaries in the field of Deaf Education and leaders of the deaf community in Paris during that time. At the beginning of each chapter, one of the seven is introduced and a brief summary of his accomplishments is delineated. The chapters follow a linear timetable, starting with the battle of oral versus sign language as the method of instruction, moving on to a discussion of best methods for teaching written languages, then culminating with Berthier as an advocate for equal rights and access for the deaf community. These writings span nearly 100 years and cover some of the issues that the deaf community is still facing today, including the language of instruction and equal rights for deaf persons.

       This book is a must for those who want direct access to translated works of the very persons who shaped the modern deaf education and community. Without these persons, deaf education as we know of it today would not be the same. Without Epée, the school that provided Laurent Clerc with the education necessary to become an accomplished educator would not exist. Without Clerc, Thomas Gallaudet might have led deaf education in America in an entirely different direction. Many of Edward Miner Gallaudet’s beliefs about deaf education and sign language can be traced back to these writings, which led to the establishment of the world’s first university for deaf persons and subsequent increased access to higher education for deaf persons worldwide. This collection of writings is priceless in terms of our understanding of the roots of modern Deaf Education and sign language politics.

Harlan Lane is the Matthews Distinguished University Professor in the Psychology Department at Northeastern University.

ISBN 978-1-56368-286-5, 6 x 9 paperback, 232 pages, photographs, index


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