(Joplin, MO USA)
My favorite person from Deaf history would have to be Abbe Charles Michel de L’Epee born 1712 in Versailles. Before he came along, deaf people were cast aside and treated like they were useless to society and could not be taught anything.
L’Epee wanted to be a priest but because of his other beliefs, he was denied to be ordained. He then became a lawyer which led to him finally being ordained but he was not allowed to officiate. He decided to devoted his life to charities and helping the poor.
He came across two deaf sisters in the poor area of Paris. They were signing to each other. As he was watching them he became worried about their salvation and did not want them to go to hell. He got with a friend of his and established a shelter in 1760 to teach religion and education to the deaf. He discovered that deaf people were capable of communicating and receiving an education.
His shelter then became the first deaf school and was free and open to the public for education. He learned the signs that deaf people were already using and developed it into a teachable language. Because of the L’Epee, deaf people were then capable of defending themselves in court.
Twenty-one schools were established after that and after his death in 1789, L’Epee became known as the “Father of Sign Language.” One man cared for a certain group of people and opened the world’s eyes to the truth. Every human being has a meaningful place in this world.
I aspire to follow in his footsteps and continue to help deaf and hard-of-hearing and handicapped people to function in this society easier.
Charles Michel de L’Epee was a man of conviction and compassion. He helped change the world as we know it today by giving rights to regular people that might not have them today. We can all learn something from his life and carry the torch for others who are less fortunate or misunderstood.
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