Adaptations to deafness
Many deaf individuals use certain assistive devices in their daily lives. Deaf individuals can communicate by telephone using Telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD) Some people call the device by its original name of teletypewriter (TTY). This device looks like a typewriter or word processor and transmits typed text over the telephone. Other names in common use are textphone and minicom. In 2004, mobile textphone devices came onto the market for the first time allowing simultaneous two way text communication. In the U.S. and UK, (RNID Text Direct) there are telephone relay services so that a deaf person can communicate with a hearing person via a human translator. Wireless and internet text messaging are beginning to take over the role of the TDD. Other assistive devices include those that use flashing lights to signal events such as a ringing telephone, a doorbell, or a fire alarm.
Historical attitudes toward deafness
For much of time, deaf people were thought to be mentally retarded. Isolated deaf people rarely, if ever, learned language, which is fundamental to much of human thought. Aristotle believed that the deaf were incapable of learning or thinking. The kind of prejudice based on speech and hearing that Aristotle expressed has influenced attitudes toward deaf people and the teaching methods for and expectations of deaf students for ages.
Education of the deaf
For most of history deaf people were not thought capable of learning and so were not educated at all. The first free school for the deaf in history was set up in France (date please). France used the signs that the students used to communicate with one another in order to teach to them. In other places, the emphasis was on lipreading and speaking English. The debate between which of these two approaches is the most efficacious to deaf students has gone on for hundreds of years and continues today.
The Oralism vs. Manualism debate
There are two opposing perspectives on how to teach language to deaf people:
The rationale behind the latter method is that deaf people will have to interact with hearing people most of the time, so they must learn to communicate as hearing people do.
The rationale behind the former method is that sign language is a natural form of communication while lip-reading and speaking are extremely difficult for those who cannot hear.
Those who prefer the sign-language method take the approach that spoken language should be used only as an auxiliary language.
In practice, deaf people have been observed to learn and communicate much faster and more fluently when taught in sign language than when taught orally.
- Manualism holds that deaf students should be taught primarily in sign language.
- Oralism holds that deaf students should be taught primarily (or exclusively) to speak and lip-read.
In the U.S., the sign-language method was primarily used until 1880, when the second International Congress on the Education and Welfare of the Deaf (composed of 163 hearing and 1 deaf individual) voted to use the oral approach to teach deaf students.
Part of the reason for the emphasis on oralism was the melting pot ideology, that everyone should share the same culture and speak the same language.
Also, because sign language was not recognized as a true language, it seemed deficient as a method of communication.
One of the major factors in changing public opinion was William Stokoe's findings, published in 1960, that American Sign Language was a true language.
The findings were not immediately accepted, but they played a major role in shifting the emphasis of teaching back toward manualism.
A growing movement in deaf education today is called bi-bi, which stands for bilingualism/biculturalism. This method aims to respect and foster Deaf cultural identity, stress and strengthen sign language competence, while simultaneously teaching and encouraging skills that facillitate functioning in the dominant hearing culture, such as English mastery.
There are many different assistive technologies such as hearing aids available to people who are deaf, hearing impaired or hard of hearing. There are also Hearing dogs which are a category of Assistance dogs.
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