Abbe Charles De I'Epee

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Abbe Charles de I’Epee In the second half of the eighteenth century Charles de I’Epee established a public school to instruct the deaf, and in so doing, he became the first to address the needs of deaf people as a social group. Unlike the oralist, Pereira, whose primary aim was to teach deaf pupils to talk so that they might “act like others,” de l’Epée was more interested in “the mental part of their education,” which he labeled “the principal object of my concern.” De I’Epee thought the teaching of articulation was impractical because the teacher could only teach two to three students at a time and the students had to have a high level of concentration with only little progress at a time. Instead of forcing oralism and articulation into the students he developed the use of signs. By bringing something natural like hand gestures, that the deaf students already began to incorporate in their lives, into the classroom it was easier for the students to understand and grasp the concept of the French language and grammar. De I’Epee said, “‘Every deaf-mute sent to us already has a language. He is thoroughly in the habit of using it, and understands others who do.... We want to instruct him and therefore to teach him French. What is the shortest and easiest method? Isn’t it to express ourselves in his language?’” (Plann) With this plan in mind he established the first School for the Deaf sometime between 1759 and 1771 in Paris; in so doing, he brought about a new era of deaf education. Using “methodical signs” instead of using the technique of oralism. He took their made up hand gestures to communicate with each other to his advantage and put them in a structured French grammatical format. In this grammatical format he created signs for tenses and verbs and nouns, also signs for gender markers and other parts of speech in French grammar. “De l’Epée explained
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