All over the world, deaf people can communicate with society by using sign language. New programs , TV shows, and even talk shows reach out to the hearing impaired through sign language.
In fact, sign language has an interesting history since its origins can be traced back as early as fifth century BC according to Dirksen in his book “Open your eyes: Deaf studies talking “ which was published last 2008.
According to the author, Socrates was recorded probing about the situation of the deaf and mute in the society who used sign language to communicate. Although his arguments in Plato’s book Cratylus was about man’s effort to communicate, it can be inferred that sign language was already used then.
Even in Jewish society sign language using motion of the lips was already practiced according to Babylonian Talmud Gitti. Old Jewish society members were compelled to study such lip motions as part of the Mishnah.
In Spain, a book titled “Reduction of letters and art for teaching mute people to speak” was written by Juan Pablo Benet in the 15th century which established a system for educating deaf people using sign language.
This paved way for Charles-Michel de L’ Epee to devise a manual alphabet which was used by sign language schools some parts of Europe and even North America. This manual alphabet was innovative since it made the deaf communicate efficiently with normal people.
A century later, the first school for deaf children in Paris was founded by no less than the heir of Charles- Michel – Abbe de l Epee. This was the legacy that the world received from the designer of the first manual for the deaf.
Interestingly, one of the famous graduates from the said school – Laurent Clerc travelled to the United States and co-founded with Thomas Hopkin Gallaudet the first school for the deaf appropriately named – American School for the Deaf.
The school was established in 1817 with its location at Hartford, Connecticut. Mr. Gallaudet went into the venture since he had deaf son named Edward who later set-up a school for the deaf in Washington.
Apparently, the founders of the deaf schools were touched by the plight of fellow deaf students that they committed themselves setting up institutions that catered to their needs. In the case of the Gallaudet College which became a liberal arts university, it is one of the best legacy that a deaf left to this world.