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In Surdam Memoriam: Karl Jaekel Essay

As I read in surdam memoriam: Karl Jaekel, it showed me how society during the 1800’s throughout the 1900’s had a very negative view on Deaf people and sign language. Hard of hearing and or deaf-mute people used to be considered as a lower class. For a family to assume that a deaf child became “Deaf and dumb” by accident was not uncommon. American parents of that day were much more comfortable admitting to congenital than to adventitious deafness in their offspring. Uncle Charlie was enrolled in the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb where he was enrolled in the shoemaking department, one of the three industrial programs open to boys, and the other two were tailoring and printing. They only kept records of the pupils attendance and work instead of academic enrollment and progress. The training programs saved the state of Pennsylvania a great deal of money by putting the pupils to work for the state. Etiology statistics in 1800’s stated that the deaf should be carefully advised in the defect to be transmitted from generation to generation and that the future of their offspring and their own should be prudently considered before entering upon a condition so fraught with possibilities of misfortune and happiness. (Annual Report, 1887-88). The connection between articulation and eugenics is not as transparent today but when Charlie was in school it was widely believed that Deaf people would cease to marry each other if the sign language that they could only communicate with would somehow be wiped out and they were forced to speak. The views are different now in 2011 because the science and generation has grown which has made families more aware as to why certain people are born or become deaf and it is certainly more common.


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