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Gallaudet University Archives
Repository: Gallaudet University Archives Call No.: MSS 79Creator: Title: Collection of International Congress on the Education of the Deaf, 1963Quantity: 5.0 Linear Feet (11 document boxes) Abstract: Note: This document last updated 2005 December 13.
Acquisition Information: Processed by: Andrew Oehrlein. Processing Note: Revised by Margaret Steedman, 1998 July 8.Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.
Related Material in the Archives:See ALADIN
Due to the numerous issues revolving around communication between the Deaf and the hearing an International Congress was established in 1878 in the attempt to establish a universal method to assuage the dilemma. Of paramount concern was that of education and the Deaf. It had been hotly contested for over a century which method-the manual method using sign languages or the oral method of lip-reading and articulation-was the most effective. Gradually the manual method has become more accepted, albeit slightly altered in some forms. The first two meetings of the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf in Paris and then Milan had very long-ranging effects regarding the form of communication in teaching the Deaf.
The first International Congress on the Education of the Deaf occurred in 1878, in Paris, France. The Congress was organized by the representatives of the Pereire Society, established in honor of Jacob Pereire, the first oral teacher of the deaf in France. The main intention of the society and purpose for the International Congress was to bring about a standardized method for educating the deaf via the oral method.
The Second International Congress held in Milan, Italy, in 1880 sparked an enormous amount of controversy and further established the much-heated manual vs. oral "war of methods" that would last well over a century following the meeting's conclusion. 164 members representing eight different countries were present at the Milan Conference. The Congress adopted eight resolutions, two of which had an astronomical impact on deaf education. According to the consensus, the "superiority of speech over signs would aid in restoring deaf-mutes to social life" and provide a "greater facility of language." At the conclusion of the Second International Congress on the Education of the Deaf in Milan, the oral method was voted for unanimously to become the officially acknowledged method for instructing the deaf.
Twenty years later in 1900 the acceptance of a combined method-lip-reading and articulation with the aid of sign language to assist in comprehension- in Paris, France, opened the door for the manual method to make headway towards general acceptance. From the time of the First International Congress until the Twelfth in 1963, the oral method held the most dominant position. During this time span meeting intervals were irregular.
While there is still conflict between those who support either of the two methodologies, manual forms for teaching the Deaf became more acceptable over time. Meetings of the International Congress now occur at regular intervals of every five years.
For more information on each meeting more resources are available in the Gallaudet University Deaf Library Collections and Archives.
Scope and Content
This collection contains of documents, correspondence, minutes, addresses, and abstracts of the proceedings of the 12th Conference of the International Congress on Education of the Deaf, held at Gallaudet College, Washington, DC on June 22-28, 1963.
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