By Susan Plann

This well timed, very important, and regularly dramatic tale occurs in Spain, for the easy cause that Spain is the place language was once first systematically taught to the deaf. guide is believed to have began within the mid-sixteenth century in Spanish monastic groups, the place the clergymen less than vows of silence hired a well-established process of signed communications. Early within the 1600s, deaf schooling entered the area of personal tutors, laymen without use for guide symptoms who endorsed oral guide for his or her students. Deaf teenagers have been taught to talk and lip-read, and this kind of deaf schooling, which has been the topic of controversy ever on account that, unfold from Spain through the world.Plann exhibits how altering conceptions of deafness and language consistently motivated deaf guideline. Nineteenth-century advances introduced new possibilities for deaf scholars, yet on the finish of what she calls the preprofessional period of deaf schooling, deaf humans have been disempowered simply because they have been barred from the instructing career. The Spanish deaf neighborhood to today exhibits the consequences of the exclusion of deaf lecturers for the deaf.The questions raised through Plann's narrative expand way past the heritage of deaf schooling in Spain: they practice to different minority groups and deaf cultures all over the world. At factor are where of minority groups in the higher society and, finally, our tolerance for human variety and cultural pluralism.

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Extra resources for A silent minority: deaf education in Spain, 1550-1835

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Speech was believed to be not an acquired skill but Page 17 an instinct, from which it followed that speech could not be taught. Indeed, even to attempt such instruction would be folly. If speech was the identifying characteristic of humansat least, hearing humansthe identifying characteristic of deaf humans was apparently taken to be not their lack of hearing, but their inability to speak. To this day, both Spanish Sign Language and American Sign Language make the sign for "hearing" (as in "a hearing person") not at the ear but at the lips, and in American Sign Language this same sign can also mean "speech," thus designating hearing people not by their auditory capacity but by their ability to talk.

The minority languages continued to be spoken in private, but Page 7 children who learned them at home were now illiterate in their mother tongue, since its teaching was forbidden. Government policies toward these languages eventually softened, and opposition movements in time led to the use of Catalan, Galician, and to a lesser extent Basque, in published works and in public acts. Promotion of the minority languages gradually became linked to opposition to the dictatorship, and as these tongues were converted into symbols of resistance, opposition to the dictatorship in turn became linked to their support, even in those regions where only Castilian was normally spoken.

The negative implications for deaf people who could not talk were obvious. In the centuries preceding the Velasco brothers' arrival at Oña and up through their time as well, the pronouncements on deafness of one philosopher in particular were quoted, and misquoted, repeatedly: Aristotle, whose work was venerated throughout the Middle Ages, asserted that those deaf from birth were inevitably mute. 19 Speech was the result of the soul acting on those body parts that humans shared with animals, which had no soul.

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A silent minority: deaf education in Spain, 1550-1835 by Susan Plann
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