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Deaf History: Western Europe

  • By: Ylva Söderfeldt & Pieter Verstraete
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Before the 18th century, there is very limited knowledge about the situation for deaf people in Western Europe. During the Enlightenment, interest in cognition and language led to the foundation of the first schools for the Deaf in France and Germany, and the expansion of the deaf educational system led to a consolidation and homogenization of the Deaf as a group in the 19th century. While the education was at first mainly manual and Deaf teachers played an important part, oral education gained ground from around 1850 and became the dominant method toward the end of the century. Parallel, deaf people organized in clubs and societies, where they cultivated their languages and community in spite of increased marginalization on the part of educational and other ...

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