In the early Catholic era, the deaf were excluded from participation because of Church fathers like the 4th-century philosopher Augustine, who believed deafness was inflicted on children because of the sins of their parents, and more broadly believed that the deaf could not hear the word of God. It is not clear how actively the deaf were excluded; for example, whether in most parishes, it was simply that no one took pains to involve them, or if actions were taken to prevent their participation in communion. At the time, the prevailing Western view was that the deaf could not learn or be taught, so strong was the imagined link between speech and thought. In any case, this began to change around the 16th century, if ...

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