terptree: Deaf Awareness Week - Tuesday 8 May: BSL History

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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Deaf Awareness Week - Tuesday 8 May: BSL History

Today we have been trawling the British Deaf Association archives to find some inspirational information on the history of BSL, so we hope you enjoy today's blog:

"Back in 1880, the Second International Congress of Education of the Deaf was held in Milan, where educators came from all over the world to discuss three main topics. These were: ‘School Buildings', ‘Teaching' and ‘Methods'. The conference, which was organised by mainly hearing educators who favoured oral education, quickly focused on the last topic ‘Methods', which saw a lot of pro-oral presentations that supported the oral method for Deaf education.
One example was a demonstration at a local Milan deaf school, where the pupils were paraded as a success of the Oral Method, as they could receive and answer questions orally. However, these questions were asked by the teachers at the schools, and any attempts from skeptical delegates to ask oral questions were rejected. There was evidence of these children being drilled to produce striking results. These children were also born hearing at birth, and had learned the basics of speech before being deafened. The school had also hidden the children that used sign language away from the delegates.
The conference passed eight resolutions, two of which were that the Oral Method be used in the instruction of the Deaf, and to discourage sign language in the education of the Deaf. The resolution was passed in favour with 160 voting for, and only four against, meaning sign language in the education of the Deaf was to be discouraged/suppressed and the Oral Method used instead.
These resolutions ensured that Deaf people who worked in educating Deaf children lost their jobs, and that sign language was no longer used as a teaching method.
Over the next 100 years, the Oral Method was the only way of educating the Deaf, and still plays a major role in Deaf Education. We strongly believe that the educational achievement of Deaf people has been negatively impacted because of this.
The British Deaf and Dumb Association (BDDA) was formed in 1890 by Francis Maginn to fight the Oral Method and to protect the rights of the Deaf people. In 1971, the "Dumb" was dropped to create the British Deaf Association that we know today.
The impact of Milan 1880 on the Deaf was severe, yet there is still hope. In the 1960s, American Sign Language (ASL) was recognised by linguists, as a language in its own right with its own grammar, vocabulary, structure and syntax.
Following in the same vein, British Sign Language also received the same recognition on 18 March 2003. Deaf and hearing people together are now campaigning for sign language to be used in education.
Despite these shocking events in the history of our language, BSL has survived years of discrimination and prejudice not only within the education system but within the hearing world. Now BSL is regaining strength, power and momentum through new research, policies and equality rights.
BSL is the language of the Deaf community and we are proud to be a linguistic minority and we will do everything in our power to continue to fight for respect, choice and equality."
Courtesy of British Deaf Association http://www.bda.org.uk/

For information on events on throughout the week - please see http://www.deafcouncil.org.uk/daw/diary.htm

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