History of Deaf Education: Part 1

From early sign-language schools to the 1880 Milan conference

The first part of a documentary telling the story of 400 years of Deaf education in the UK, from early sign-language schools onwards. Starting with Thomas Braidwood’s methods, which were part of what is described as the golden age for sign language education from 1792 to the 1860s, we find out how increasing tension in Europe about teaching methods led to the 1880 Milan conference, where a policy of oralism was adopted. But even after technology came in, and sign language was banned from the classroom, Deaf children continued to sign in the playground. Presented by Louise Harte.

To watch the second part of this documentary, click here.

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  • I am hearing and I am learning BSL.  This actually made me cry.  I cannot believe they put children in straight jackets to stop them from using their own preferred method of communication.  This deserves a wider audience. I am so glad that BSL is a recognised language now.
    Posted on
    170213
  • fantastic insight into the history of the deaf i look forward to seeing more this has been a great help to me x
    Posted on
    161110
  • A clear, concise representation of the history of Deaf Education. A super teaching tool.
    Posted on
    161102
  • Fascinating and shocking documentary. I had no idea this happened. It is hidden history that deserves a wider audience.
    Posted on
    160713
  • Thank you for this informative well-made video. I see it as a important source that gives people, in my case university students, a impressive glimpse into the history of one of the most misunderstood individuals, the Deaf. 
    Posted on
    160323
  • I work at Mainstream school with deaf children there
    Posted on
    151119
  • Very informative video - however, very sad - more than sad - an injustice all round and very repressive. Thank God BSL is now acknowledged as a "language" in its own right.
    Posted on
    151027
  • I enjoyed to your great video for BLS and I interested to the video for BLS and speech because it was very hard to speech.
    Posted on
    151002
  • very nice.
    Posted on
    150901
  • well done ..bsl zone ..it very good story ,etc
    Posted on
    150901
  • great video :)
    Posted on
    150713
  • Hi my first love is sign Language. . OK I was send to deaf school when I was about 8 as u g it sick very bad has miss school earlier I was one of lucky ones I learn speech early from 18 month old onward so at deaf school Brisbane Australia. . I boarder there I not get everything but h app with what I learn I belive teachers had a lot to be praise or blame for our growth of hearing tested with lip reading in classes not sighs from teachers sad. .. we did use sign language after classes & after school I still use both speeches & sign as many of my friends in the deaf world r happy to sign Aslan as now our 1st love language many my class oral deaf has good & bad with teachers now new problem colliers deaf on the rise I think this us a new "better hearing group" which may destroy us later on sad...
    Posted on
    150625
  • Fantastic website, very informative.
    Posted on
    150622
  • Interested about deaf history.
    Posted on
    150424
  • So sad to think that these kids were so frustrated and angry because they could not use sign which appears natural. I felt sad for the man that reports as a child having burning ears.
    Posted on
    150414
  • st Dominice school for deaf in feilding
    Posted on
    150331
  • Wow!! so interesting to watch but awful for the deaf children years ago who wasn't allowed to sign because of fear affecting oral learning. So Cruel for them. I find it so interesting about Milan history. I was taught some Milan history when I did my CSW course by a lovely Deaf lady, Janice.s. So interesting. What if all Deaf children had signed years ago?..
    Posted on
    150315
  • hello my name is angela hill best known as angie, i am right sided deaf and uses basic sign, but learning to communicate, can u help me learn more, i am up for any challange, i am a keen learner. i love bsl sign,i also watch all the programs shown, bsl zone need's to be shown alot more please can you get in touch with me for mor info many thanks angie.
    Posted on
    150216
  • This video is brilliant! Thank you!
    Posted on
    150204
  • hiya I want know this about • History of deaf schools ??? bac my bsl level 3 ok
    Posted on
    150202
  • Hi, I think the film is excellent. The Milan conference was a charade. Everything I have read about makes your blood boil. My son is deaf and endured some of those miserable consequences of bloody oralism. There is a black and white post war film about a deaf child. The child and film is called Mandy. Giving it some due credit, it does show a lot of sympathy for the problems faced by the little girl and her family. But the big but is that it is a big propaganda push for oralism. It is as if there no such thing as sign language ! The oralist propagandists were no different from Goebbels in my opinion.
    Posted on
    150201
  • An excellent video part 1. am looking forward to seeing the next one
    Posted on
    141223
  • Very interesting video. I went to Donaldsons School for the Deaf . We only got speech lessons once a week, we were not allowed to sign in class but no objections of doing it in playroom or outside. We did get educated on sums English history geography but only got English taught once a day. When I got home at weekends my family noticed that my English was a jumble of words I simply was no good at writing sentences...So they took it upon themselves to teach me by making me read every weekend and telling me what words meant and asking me about the pages I had read making sure I understood it. So I got better and better at reading until the teachers noticed I needed no help and let me choose whatever I wanted to read . That just shows that deaf children need much more help and time when it comes to reading which is the most important thing we need to understand. It is not that the deF are stupid it is the low education they get.
    Posted on
    141215
  • Hi I'm doing a presentation about British Sign language and I would like to write about the history of sign language can anyone give me some key points of want i should put?
    Posted on
    141215
  • Hearing people will be appalled to know this. Thank you for promoting understanding.
    Posted on
    140924
  • i need know all about what happen first languages pls
    thanks
    Posted on
    140721
  • I myself am deaf and gave been since childhood, I went to a deaf school and was well treated but never got enough English taught the teacher only spoke and none of the teachers signed but we did use BSL to talk to each other. When it was Fri we had to write a letter telling our family what we had done as we stayed at school all week. My family noticed my written English was rubbish it was all mixed up so they took it upon themselves to teach me at weekend and made me read easy books and if I didn't understand the sentences or word I just asked them what it meant, gradually my English got better and better and I started to be able to speak sentences and if I pronounced it wrong my family would show me how it should be said as a lot of words are not written and spoken the same. The teacher was amazed at how good I had become at my reading writing and spoken English no thanks to her but to my family if more families took more interest in wanting to help their children then it can be done but most families think it's the teachers job and leave it to them. Just giving the deaf children an hour a day to learn English is not enough they need a whole morning and once they have mastered English they should then add other lessons as by then the children would now understand English. How many people know that BSL leaves a lot of words out in a sentence so the pupils only pick up that and their English goes down the drain. Being deaf myself I have been through it all so know .
    Posted on
    140721
  • Very helpful for my bsl 3
    Posted on
    140617
  • I'm learning about the history of Deaf Schools for my BSL Level 3. Very interesting and informative, but also shocking to see how Deaf children were treated, very sad to see how they were let down by the education system.

    I would be interested to learn about the Deaf child in mainstream school, do they have access to BSL interpreters and note takers? How they are learning and interacting with their hearing peers. What is the success rate in comparison to the Deaf child at a Deaf school?
    Posted on
    140520
  • This is the most amazing video of History of Deaf Education! It enables all of us in Singapore to realise how important it is for our Deaf people to struggle for our Deaf children's right to the appropriate Deaf education as the Deaf school is about to close down next year! Two Thumbs Up!!!
    Posted on
    140512
  • Brilliant
    I think every school child from age 8 should be shown this film and do special showing to parents.
    Government must make deaf awareness a part of school curricula
    Posted on
    140219
  • Heartbreakingly informative! Shocking that deaf children/deaf community, are still fighting for the right to an effective education, in the 21st Century!!
    Posted on
    140219
  • The Braidwood classroom scene was incorrect; the setup was entirely different. The teacher and his assistants did not have a desk and the children were not taught the same subject at the same time.

    Braidwood was a roaming teacher and each child received individualised attention due to the varying ages of the pupils between 4 and 18.
    Posted on
    131118
  • good
    Posted on
    131104
  • Outstanding work, great job!!!! This is well done, a professional work in filming! We need to get this out to ALL Deaf Education systems, organizations, and government/ legislator leaders, officials.... We, Americans in USA, will need to do this, make our own as powerful as this.
    Posted on
    131021
  • This is a fantastic resource. I have found it very informative. I am planning to use this information in my coursework at university and would be very interested to know the resources used to all the information given in this program.
    Again a great documentary!
    Posted on
    131021
  • Part 2 is available now.
    Posted on
    130724
  • Thank you so much for making this available. When will Part 2 be available?
    Posted on
    130415
  • It's a great movie! Outstanding historic atmosphere. Beautiful reconstructions! Reliable information and interpretations. It was difficult to show the problem of the Congress in Milan, but you have done it very well. I am a special educator and university professor in Poland. I know the history of deaf education, I wrote an extensive article on this subject. I am interested in Deaf Studies and Deaf History and Deaf Culture. I was at Gallaudet University on Deaf Way II. All the time I'm looking for interesting material for my students. I will use this video in academic work and recommend to other teachers in my country (I see that I am the first Polish visitor here :)). Thank you very much BSL! You are insightful professionals!

    Dorothy Podgórska-Jachnik
    psychologist, special educator
    Spokesperson for Disabled
    The Pedagogical Academy in Lodz
    Poland
    Posted on
    130415
  • Hello all !

    I'm from France, and i like very much this movie ! Good explanations and reflexions. About extracts of a old movie, they're from "Triumph over deafness", i've an analysis about this old movie. It's only on french, but google translate do a good translation about it. http://noetomalalie.hypotheses.org/60

    Good reading !
    Posted on
    130322
  • Fascinating video. Just stumbled across it doing a random search about deafness as some background research for a story I am writing.
    Posted on
    130322
  • BSL Zone,

    Congratulations! It is an excellent video that matches what I have been researching on Deaf Education for more than 40 years. I used to explore the archives at Gallaudet University and saw the wealth of information gathering dust in basement.

    This video by BSL Zone is a perfect one that I have spent over 40 years piecing together how the hearing people coordinated efforts to hurt the original Deaf Education laid out by Clerc and others down the timeline.

    Of course, the word, "Audism" was not existent until 1975. It helps to realize what hearing people did by going through pages of history and documents.

    We need to solidify our efforts to combat audism!

    I use your videos to teach my students at Quincy University. They were enlightened by your stories and they benefit from learning about history.

    I commend BSL Zone for doing a good job!

    Paul J. Kiel
    ASL Instructor/Lecturer
    Quincy University
    Quincy, Illinois
    USA

    Posted on
    130204
  • no wonder i hated school. i was mainstreamed with hearing aids
    Posted on
    130204
  • Wow! Impress video. I already e-mail to hearing people who ask me can you speak? It's most annoying question in my life. I'm proud the video showing proof how all Deaf not learning oral. I have similar problem teacher was abused me. Thank for sharing. I'm from Canada subtitles is pretty helpful all of us. Smile
    Posted on
    130204
  • Really informative, many thanks, I am using your programmes with my 'English for Deaf students' class.
    Posted on
    121124
  • Thanks to BSL Zone! A great, educational film!

    Retired Deaf teacher of California
    Posted on
    121112
  • Never mind. I found the "subtitles" tab above the video. Hooray! You guys rock!!
    Posted on
    121101
  • I am in America and I find the video informative. Unfortunately, I don't know any BSL and will appreciate if the video is subtitled. :)
    Posted on
    121101
  • HOLA, ME GUSTARIA COMPRAR ESA PELICULA QUE NO SE SI VENDE DVD. INCLUYE SUBTITULOS ESPAÑOL? GRACIAS
    Posted on
    121025
  • It was really interesting to know more about the History of Deaf Education. Please I want order DVD

    Regards Marina Gray
    Posted on
    121011
  • I enjoy your great video! They were required to write "I will not sign, I must talk". Do you see there is something wrong with this picture? We do talk even while signing. It should be something like "I will not sign, I must vocally talk". "I must use my vocal cord" or anything like that. The joke was on these oral teachers. Thank goodness, oral system isn't so prevalent and not so strict today, if I'm not mistaken.
    Posted on
    121011
  • Wow - excellent programme, extremely well-made. Thank you! I am going to pass this on for sure.
    Posted on
    120913
  • Excellent programme.

    It was really interesting to know more about the History of Deaf Education 1. I didn't know that the book was written 400 years ago by John Bulwer. It is truly amazing! I look forward to see the next one, Deaf history education no. 2.

    Thank you to BSL Zone for making this film and other deaf programmes.
    Posted on
    120907
  • j'ai bien vu une histoire de l'éducation des sourds
    Posted on
    120831
  • Very nice this film that tells the history of the deaf. Point did not know that book was written 400 years ago the author by John Bulwer wow.
    Posted on
    120831
  • Congratulations BSL ZONE! I am studing BSL and both these programmes have been for me,not only informative, educational - with deaf issues but presented professionally in an interesting way.
    Posted on
    120806
  • Excellent programme, great to gain knowledge on the history of BSL and how natural things in life shouldn't be forced to change.

    Look forward to watching the next one.
    Posted on
    120731
  • I work with D/deaf residents whom suffer from a wide range of mental health problems and wanted to run a group dealing with D/deaf issues and make them more aware of their D/deaf culture and beginings.

    Thank you Kindly

    Jake Andrews
    Activities Co-ordinator
    Posted on
    120731
  • Excellent demo of Historyof Deaf Education that I will like to show in my BSL teaching classes which it is part of our teaching curriculum topic.
    Louise Harte is using well balance pacing and excellent presentation style. Looking forward to seeing Deaf of History Education 2 next one.

    Many thanks to BSL Zone teamwork for making this programme happening today. d/Deaf & hearing children will learn alot and raise their awareness in school today.

    Kindest regards

    David Pilkington
    BSL teacher / trainer / assessor
    Posted on
    120710

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