By: Jamie Saults (05/18/2016)
I am writing about Alexander Graham Bell because I thought it interesting that he fought so hard for the deaf community and even married a deaf person, yet also thought that deaf people weakened society. His beliefs led to a debate in the form of communication used by the deaf and to a ban on the use of ASL that lasted for one hundred years.
Bell had had an interest in hearing and speech since he was a young boy. He had been exposed to the deaf community through his parents. His mother was deaf and his father had created the symbols for visible speech, which was used to teach deaf people how to speak. Years later, Bell opened for a school for teachers of the deaf in Boston. His associations there, including meeting his wife, compelled him to begin his work on the telephone. He founded the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf in 1890. This is now known as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.
It is believed that Bell thought deaf people posed a threat to the social order. As a result, he tried to find a way to prevent the birth of deaf children. He also wanted to stop American Sign Language as the means of communication for the deaf and instead use oralism because he thought it would be a better way of communication for the deaf to assimilate into mainstream society. His influence against manualism or ASL led to a century long ban of ASL in schools.
The debate of manualism vs. oralism exists today, but fortunately ASL is no longer banned.