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Manualism, Philosophy and Models of

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

Manualism refers to the educational philosophy for the Deaf that grew out of 19th century Western discourse that prioritized the use of gesture, fingerspelling, and signs over the practice of teaching deaf students speech and lipreading. Manualists understood the power of deaf people’s sensory orientation and realized that the visual nature of manual communication was both more natural and more easily accessible to them.While some oralists did not object to the use of writing or manual alphabets as a means to teach speech, manualists asserted the capacity of sign language to be a sufficient and even more natural means of communicating ideas and effectively capable of expressing abstract thoughts than any spoken language.

While oralism became dominant in latter half of the 19th century, the spread ...

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