I do not find Alexander Graham Bell to be inspirational or admirable in this case, and yet I must say he is my favorite historical figure.
Mr. Bell’s futile attempts to make the deaf community conform was condescending and ignorant. His interest in “helping” the deaf of his time was, in my opinion, “phone-y!” If he were alive today, he would have to eat his own telephone cord.
It’s refreshing to see a useful invention morph into a useful tool for those who were wrongly oppressed for so many years. I am referring to the IP (relay phone). Inventions are sometimes misused or turned into hurtful objects. In this case, the telephone has become a supporter of sign language. It is sweet victory for the deaf community and for all of us by extension!
What a shame it would have been if sign language would had been wiped out. But, ring ring, hello? Sign language is one of those unique languages that is impossible to wipe out. Even if Mr. Bell and his cohorts had succeeded to a certain degree at that time, sign language would have simply taken a slightly different route, but still would be alive and well today.
It’s not like some of the ancient tribal languages that have died away never to be recovered. For centuries, the deaf have communicated by signs. How a man like Alexander Graham Bell, with all his intelligence and patience for such an intricate and delicate machine, could not understand the importance of sign language, is a mystery to me. Much like my cell phone… ironic, isn’t it?