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Deaf

dumb, speech, schools, hearing, deafness, child, persons, language, congenitally and class

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DEAF, The ('Deaf and Dumb,' *Deaf Mutes"). The term °the deaf* is used in this article to designate the class of persons who are unable on account of deafness to be taught in ordinary schools and consequently must re ceive their education in special schools or through special teachers at home.

Such persons are sometimes called *deaf and dumb,* *deaf-mutes," or simply *mutes." The first schools established in Great Britain and America were named *asylums for the deaf and dumb"; then, as the character of their work became better understood, they were called *in stitutions for the education of deaf-mutes*; one or the other of these terms still persists in the corporate titles of a few of the older schools. But all that have been established within recent years have been entitled *schools for the deaf' and nearly all the older ones have changed their names to this title. There are excellent reasons for preferring the term *the deaf' to *deaf and dumb," °deaf-mutes' or *mutes." *Deaf and dumb* is objectionable for three reasons: (1) It tends to perpetuate the popular error that deafness and dumbness are two distinct physical defects, whereas there is only one, namely deafness. There is usually no imperfection in the vocal organs of the deaf, except such imperfection of development as may be the result of the lack of exercise; dumbness, where it exists, is simply the consequence of the deafness. (2) The word *dumb" in some parts of the United States carries with it an implication of stupidity and brutishness. The deaf child, even before it receives any educa tion, is not °dumb" in this sense. (3) *Dumb? even when it is properly used to indicate per sons unable to speak on account of their deaf ness, is inaccurate if applied to the whole class of the deaf, for many of them, having lost their hearing by accident or disease after they had learned articulate language through the ear in the usual way, still retain their speech not withstanding their deafness; and others, originally dumb from having been born deaf or having lost their hearing in infancy or early childhood, have acquired the art of speech through instruction and are no longer to be classed as dumb. The confusion of mind caused by the use of the term *deaf and dumb* in taking the thirteenth census of the United States in 1910 led to so many errors on the part of the enumerators that, as is stated in the bulletin of the census bureau published in 1915, it was finally considered inadvisable to make any tabulation covering the total population re turned as deaf and dumb.° The term *deaf mutes* is preferable to *deaf and dumb,' but when applied to the whole class of the deaf it is equally inaccurate, and for the same reason; a large proportion of the deaf are not mute. *Deaf-mutes,* however, is a correct designa tion for persons deaf from birth or early child hood who have not acquired the power of speech through instruction. Happily, owing to the progress made in oral teaching within recent years, the number of persons belonging to this class is now much less than formerly. The abbreviated form *mutes° without the qualify ing prefix *deaf* is objectionable for the same reason as *deaf-mutes,* and is open to the further objection that it suggests to readers of English literature the assistants of an under taker at a funeral. The only proper designa tion for the Whole class of persons under con- sideration in this article is the deaf.' This is the term that is always used by their teachers and themselves in America and Great Britain, is incorporated in the titles of most of their schools, has been adopted in the annual reports of the United States Bureau of Education and the special report of the twelfth census, and is coming more and more into general use. There are several distinct classes of the deaf. These are, first, the two great classes of the congenitally deaf (those deaf from birth) and the adventitiously deaf (those who have be come deaf at some time after birth). Accord ing to the thirteenth census of the United States the congenitally deaf constitute 39.3 per cent of the whole number and this percentage agrees pretty nearly with that of the statistics of schools for the deaf. But it is often impossible

to be sure whether a child is congenitally or adventitiously deaf. Deafness is not usually discovered until he arrives at the age when children ordinarily begin to speak. He may have been born deaf or he may have lost his hearing later from some unobserved cause. An important distinction with respect to the educa tion of the deaf is made by the division of the adventitiously deaf into the two sub-classes of 'quasi-congenitally'deaf and *semi-mutes.* The quasi-congenitally deaf are those who lose hearing at some time during the first two or three years of life— sometimes even later and, in consequence of the loss of hearing, also apparently rose the limited knowledge of lan guage and speech they have acquired through the ear before deafness occurred. Like the congenitally deaf, these children are, and with out Instruction remain, true deaf-mutes. To them the spoken and written language of their fellow men is entirely unknown, and, even with the best education that special schools can give, they rarely attain to such a mastery of its idioms that they can use it with the accuracy and freedom that a hearing person does. There is, however, a subtle difference in the mental condition of congenitally deaf and quasi-con genitally deaf children. Up to the time they enter school, indeed, this difference is not ap parent; the quasi-congenitally deaf child speaks and understands speech no more than the deaf born child and he possesses no conscious memory whatever of the words he once heard or even used. But it must be that there still remains in his mind a dim, subconscious memory of those words and of language; for it is observed by his teachers that he acquires words, language, and speech more readily and quickly than the child who was born deaf or who lost hearing within a few months after birth. Persons who lose their hearing in later childhood, after they have learned to under stand a great deal of language and to speak readily and fluently themselves, are known in schools for the deaf as 'semi-mutes'; an awkward and objectionable term, since it does not accurately describe their condition and is not generally understood, but one for which no satisfactory substitute has been proposed. Even these may cease to speak if they are not encour aged by their family and friends to persist in the use of the voice; but their memory of words remains, especially if they have learned to write, and, if they receive proper encourage ment, it is easy for them to retain the power of speech. When they are too deaf to hear their own utterance their voices are always peculiar and often disagreeable; but great improvement in this respect may be effected by the careful training of skilful teachers of articulation. Their mental condition is essentially different from that of the congenitally and quasi-congeni tally deaf ; not that their native capacity and learning ability is superior, but that their knowl edge of language obtained before hearing was lost gives them an incontestible advantage over the deaf-born and the deaf from early child hood. The pupils who arouse admiration at public exhibitions by their fluent speech and good command of written language, and the deaf who distinguish themselves in later life as writers and poets, generally belong to the class of semi-mutes. Persons who become deaf in adult life retain their speech but, unless they receive special instruction in speech-reading, generally cannot understand much of the speech of others and so are more or less cut off from society and sometimes from their former busi ness or profession. They usually feel their deprivation more keenly than those deaf from birth or childhood, but by persistent study of the art of speech-reading under competent teachers, .for which opportunity is now offered in many places, they may often be to a large extent restored to the society of their families and friends and enabled to carry on their busi ness or profession more successfully than at first seemed possible.

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