SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 37

Reading Methodology for Deaf Children
Supalla
deaf children . Knowing French through the signed medium was thought to help deaf children with learning to read in French ( see Mayer & Wells , 1996 for a similar assumption concerning signed English as used in the United States and Canada ). However , through the test of time educators came to the conclusion that Natural Sign ( the name they gave to the communication system that deaf children used among themselves ) was the better choice ( see S . Supalla & McKee , 2002 for a psycholinguistic explanation on why a sign system modeling the structure of a spoken language is ill-advised and problematic ). Although Natural Sign was not French , the idea of deaf children using a language that worked for them superseded the educators ’ intention of confining deaf education to the French language .
French educator , Roch-Ambroise Bébian initiated the signed language reading movement . The logic was that if Natural Sign is deaf children ’ s language , reading must then be taught in that language ( see Grushkin , 2017 for a similar argument for ASL and deaf children ). Bébian found himself involved in the creation of a writing system called Mimography ( Lane , 1984a ). The term was apparently chosen to reflect Natural Sign ’ s ‘ mimetic ’ characterization involving hand movements . Bébian published work on Mimography in 1817 and 1820 ( Lane , 1984b ; alternatively 1825 as reported in Rée , 1999 ). Bébian can be described as belonging to a new generation of educators that were ready to pursue the concept of signed language reading . While the Paris school for the deaf was established in the 1760s , several decades passed before Bébian came into the picture and the signed language movement began .
In all of the ideas and actions that followed , Bébian did not consider how deaf children could best learn and master written French . There is no report in the literature about French educators recognizing the need for an intermediary system , for example . Although deaf children might learn to read in Natural Sign , they would still need to move towards learning and mastering written French . The idea of a conventional writing system for Natural Sign is feasible , but then deaf children would learn to read in their own language only . They could not repeat the reading process with French due to its status as a spoken language . For French educators , signed language literacy was new at the time . They wanted to focus on the basic idea that deaf children have the opportunity to read in Natural Sign . Any consideration of instructional design for crosslinguistic reading was lacking at the time .
In the United States , any form of contemporaneous signed language reading was curiously absent . There are a few reasons for this . Bébian ’ s publications with Mimography took place after the deaf Frenchman , Laurent Clerc emigrated to the United States to work with the American collaborator , Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to found the first permanent school for the deaf in Hartford , Connecticut in 1817 . It can be said that American deaf education continued the direction that had taken place in France prior to Bébian ’ s work ( e . g ., by favoring signing as a medium for instruction with deaf children ). Moreover , one unfortunate situation for Bébian in France hampered the transfer of ideas from that country to the United States . Bébian was distraught over how the French school for the deaf was run , and his protests led to his dismissal ( Lane , 1984b ). The loss of Bébian ’ s leadership was profound as signed language reading ceased to be a force .
The divisions among educators that began to emerge in France and elsewhere in the world did not help with the consideration and development of signed language reading . Natural Sign and signing were losing their favored position . The field of deaf education became polarized with oralism vs . manualism as reported in the literature . Educators who advocated oralism favored the use of spoken language with deaf children in the classroom and were in opposition to manualism ( which favored the use of signed language ; Moores , 1996 ). This led to
SASLJ , Vol . 1 , No . 1 – Fall / Winter 2017 37
Reading Methodology for Deaf Children Supalla deaf children. Knowing French through the signed medium was thought to help deaf children with learning to read in French (see Mayer & Wells, 1996 for a similar assumption concerning signed English as used in the United States and Canada). However, through the test of time educators came to the conclusion that Natural Sign (the name they gave to the communication system that deaf children used among themselves) was the better choice (see S. Supalla & McKee, 2002 for a psycholinguistic explanation on why a sign system modeling the structure of a spoken language is ill-advised and problematic). Although Natural Sign was not French, the idea of deaf children using a language that worked for them superseded the educators’ intention of confining deaf education to the French language. French educator, Roch-Ambroise Bébian initiated the signed language reading movement. The logic was that if Natural Sign is deaf children’s language, reading must then be taught in that language (see Grushkin, 2017 for a similar argument for ASL and deaf children). Bébian found himself involved in the creation of a writing system called Mimography (Lane, 1984a). The term was apparently chosen to reflect Natural Sign’s ‘mimetic’ characterization involving hand movements. Bébian published work on Mimography in 1817 and 1820 (Lane, 1984b; alternatively 1825 as reported in Rée, 1999). Bébian can be described as belonging to a new generation of educators that were ready to pursue the concept of signed language reading. While the Paris school for the deaf was established in the 1760s, several decades passed before Bébian came into the picture and the signed language movement began. In all of the ideas and actions that followed, Bébian did not consider how deaf children could best learn and master written French. There is no report in the literature about French educators recognizing the need for an intermediary system, for example. Although deaf children might learn to read in Natural Sign, they would still need to move towards learning and mastering written French. The idea of a conventional writing system for Natural Sign is feasible, but then deaf children would learn to read in their own language only. They could not repeat the reading process with French due to its status as a spoken language. For French educators, signed language literacy was new at the time. They wanted to focus on the basic idea that deaf children have the opportunity to read in Natural Sign. Any consideration of instructional design for cross- linguistic reading was lacking at the time. In the United States, any form of contemporaneous signed language reading was curiously absent. There are a few reasons for this. Bébian’s publications with Mimography took place after the deaf Frenchman, Laurent Clerc emigrated to the United States to work with the American collaborator, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to found the first permanent school for the deaf in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817. It can be said that American deaf education continued the direction that had taken place in France prior to Bébian’s work (e.g., by favoring signing as a medium for instruction with deaf children). Moreover, one unfortunate situation for Bébian in France hampered the transfer of ideas from that country to the United States. Bébian was distraugh Ёٕȁ܁ѡɕ͍ȁѡ݅́ո́ɽѕ́Ѽ́͵ͅ(1шQ́ é݅́͡ɽչ́ͥՅɕ͕)Ѽɍ)Q٥ͥ́Սѽ́ѡЁѼɝɅ͕ݡɔѡ)ݽɱЁݥѠѡͥɅѥٕЁͥՅɕ9Ʌ)MͥݕɔͥѡȁٽɕͥѥQՍѥ)ɥ镐ݥѠɅʹ̸Յʹ́ɕѕѡѕɅɔՍѽ́ݡٽѕ)Ʌʹٽɕѡ͔ՅݥѠɕѡɽݕɔ)ͥѥѼՅʹݡٽɕѡ͔ͥՅ5ɕ̰ؤQ́Ѽ($)MM1(Yİ9ăL]ѕȀ(