CPAU 243 AAC and Deaf Culture AssignmentNames:218023906- Mdluli Phumelele218045930- Mtshali NonkululekoEarly childhood experiences with regards to communication and relationships within the family. Helen Adams Keller was born on the 27th of June, 1880 and died on the 1st of June, 1988. She was born in West Tuscumbia, Alaboma. (Herrmann, Keller & Shattuck, 2003). She was an American author, political activist and lecturer. At nineteen months old, Helen contracted an unknown illness described by doctors as an acute congestion of the stomach and brain, which might have been scarlet fever or meningitis (Keller, 1905).
Helen lived her mother, father and her four siblings. The family was not particularly wealthy and earned income from their cotton plantation. Helen’s mother noticed that her child did not show any reaction when the dinner bell was rung, or when the hand was waved in front of her face. Helen’s parents did not know how to communicate with their daughter. After Helen was diagnosed with the illness, she never lived independently, she always relied on her family.
She would sit on her mother’s lap or clung to her dress as she went about her household duties. According to Keller, she would feel every object with her hands observed every motion. Soon she felt the need of some communication with her family, so she began making crude sign. A shake of the head meant No and nod, Yes, a pull meant Come and push meant Go. When she wanted bread, she would imitate the acts of cutting slices and buttering them and if she wanted ice-cream, she would make the sign for working the freezer and shivered, indicating cold. Her mother succeeded in making her understand most things. At the age of five she learned to fold and put away clean clothes and she could distinguish her own from rest. As Helen grew into childhood, she developed a limited method of communication with her companion, Martha Washington, the daughter of the family cook. The two created a type of sign language, and by the time (Keller, 1905). Helen was seven, they had invented more than sixty signs to communicate with her family. She could distinguish people by the vibration of their footsteps (Shattuck, 1904).Helen had become very wild and unruly during this time. She would kick and scream when angry. She tormented Martha and inflicted raging tantrums on parents, this made it difficult for her parents to communicate with her. Many family relatives felt she should be institutionalized. In 1886, her mother started reading about the successful education of another deaf-blind child, in hopes of finding answers as to why her child behaved this way and she also wanted to find ways to use to communicate with her child. (Worthington, 1990).Acquisition of sign language and educational experiencesHelen’s parents realised that she needed some special help. They contacted the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston. The director suggested the former student named Anne Mansfield Sullivan. Sullivan arrived when Helen was six years old and immediately began to teach her finger spelling, starting with the word d-o-l-l to help Helen understand the gift of the doll she had brought along. Other words would follow. At first Helen was curious, then defiant, refusing to cooperate with Sullivan’s instruction. When Helen did cooperate, Sullivan could tell she was not making the connection between the objects and letters spelled out in her hand. Sullivan kept working at it, forcing Helen to go through the regimen. Sullivan was trying to teach Helen the word mug, she became frustrated and broke the mug (Katherine, 1969). As Helen’s frustration grew, the tantrums increased. Finally, Sullivan demanded that she had Helen isolated from the rest of the family for a time, so Helen could concentrate only on Sullivan’s instructions. They moved to a cottage on the plantation (Lockett & Lowe, 1901).In a dramatic struggle Sullivan taught Helen the word water, she helped her make connection between the object and letters. At that very moment Helen found interest in this finger spelling and tried to imitate it. In days that followed she was able to spell this way a great number of words, among them being pin, hat, cap and few verbs like sit, stand and walk.In 1890, Helen began speech classes at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. She would toil for 25 years to learn to speak so that others could understand her. From 1894-1896, she attended the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City. There, she worked on improving her communication skills and studied regular academic subjects.Helen learned how to talk from her Sarah Fuller, who was a teacher at Wright-Humason. Helen learnt by resting her hand on Sarah’s lips, this method is called TODOMA’. She learned how to feel sound vibrations and how the lips moved to make sounds. She started off learning few letters and sounds. Then she advanced words and, finally, sentences, Helen was so happy she could say words.According to Keller, around this time, Helen became determined to attend college. In 1896, she attended the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, a preparatory school for women. She attended Radcliffe College, she was accompanied by Sullivan who sat by her side to interpret lectures and texts. Helen graduated, cum laude, from Radcliffe in 1904, at the age of 24.Introduction to Deaf Culture and values of Sign Language Although Helen was deaf, she made a huge impact on the world. She proved that it is possible that any deaf person could learn how to speak, sign, and do everything else a hearing person can do. She proved that it is possible that deaf people are capable of things hearing people can do, and that anybody can follow their dreams if they try hard enough. In the summer of 1894, Helen attend the meeting at Chautauqua of the American Association to promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf. Helen became proponent of oralism, thereby alienating herself from others in the deaf community who believed that a rich deaf culture was possible through sign language. Only by distancing herself from the deaf community was she able to maintain a public image as a one-of-a-kind miracle. (Nielsen, 2009). She did an amazing work in respect to being an advocate for people who are deaf by raising awareness of deafness and the need for preventative measures. She was devoted to humanitarian efforts that include the rights of women and rights of people with disability. Helen Keller used tactile finger spelling, as she became acquainted with her surroundings through the sense of feeling (including all tactile impressions), she felt more and more the pressing necessity of communicating with those around her. Many people consider Helen to have been vital to the advancement of the American Sign Language (ASL) program, although, in reality, Helen did not favour the ASL program and was criticised by many of its most ardent supporters. Before Anne Sullivan became her teacher, Helen and her companion made more than sixty signs, all of which were intuitive and were readily understood by those who knew her. Whenever she wished for anything, she would gesticulate in a very expressive manner. Sullivan introduced Helen to language by using finger spelling. Over time, Helen made the connection and learned to communicate effectively with this technique (Keller, 1905).Despite her having learned to communicate by signing, Helen was an advocate of oralism, much to chagrin of those who championed sign language. Oralism is lip reading and spoken English.She was pleased that the advent of sign language allowed many deaf people to interact with others, but she was certain that more effective methods of deaf instruction waited to be discovered. Helen used sign language rarely and felt uncomfortable doing so. Even before she learned to communicate with others using crude finger spelling (Harvey & Kim, 2004).Views on person’s journey as a deaf person in a hearing worldReferencesAdams, C. 2002. The Courage of Helen Keller.Herrmann, Keller, H. Shattuck, R. 2003. The Story of my life. The Restored Classic. 43:4. 12-14. Katherine, E. 1969. Helen Keller: Handicapped Girl.Keller, H. 1905. The Story of My Life. New York: Double day, Page & Company.Keller, H. American Foundation for the Blind. Retrieved, February 21, 2015.Lowe, M. Lockett, M. 1901. Heaven, home and Happiness. The Christian Herald. 215-216.Nielsen, K. 2009. The Radical Lives of Helen Keller.Shattuck, R. 1904. The world I live in.Worthington, W. 1990. A family album: Men who made the Medical Center.
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