To me, Abbe de L’Epee is my favorite person because he showed that deaf people could learn and be productive people just as much as hearing people. I think it is wonderful that he opened the school for deaf and also was willing to learn the sign language the students brought to the school and incorporate it into his teaching. I feel without him deaf people may still be in the dark ages.
I have taken several sign language classes in the past and my teachers were all deaf. My first teacher told us his history, how, as a child, he was taught to speak instead of sign and how frustrating that was for him since he couldn’t hear himself to know if he was even speaking correctly. His speech was difficult to understand but his parents insisted he would communicate by speech. They felt this made him more “normal”. I could tell he was much more relaxed with sign language than speech.
I am so thankful that Abbe de L’Epee was part of their history and opened up the world to deaf people.