New On Line Exhibition Launched: Deaf Education in the Seventies

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A new ‘Hidden Histories’ exhibition was launched at the Sussex Deaf History website on September 29, 2012. The launch took place at the Deaf Diaspora event at Brighthelm Centre, Brighton, which was part of the World Federation of the Deaf’s ‘World Deaf Day’.


Deaf Education in the Seventies’ explores the world of residential education during the decade, which was also a period when the assumed approach to oral education (pure oral method) was challenged. One forgotten doctorate was William ‘Bill’ Watts who tested the levels of intelligence in deaf children without using language (Montessori method). He became the assistance Director for the Reginald Phillips Research Unit, which specifically focused on Deaf education, based at University of Sussex. Until two years ago, this historical fact was lost in history.


In response to the changing times on the 1970s, the exhibition has revisited children of that time, who are now in their forties or fifties. A film was made in 1972, titled ‘the base of a spiral’, which focused on three schools: Hamilton Lodge, Ovingdean Hall and St Thomas; one narrator was in that film. Their stories have been captured on video, using life history methods, and are exhibited on line. Their stories create a response to the education of its time, which include both cherished and difficult memories.


The exhibition is part of the Hidden Histories: Intercultural Dialogue project, which was funded by Grundtvig, an adult education stream of EU funding. The project was managed at University of Sussex and worked with partners in Finland, Ireland and Austria. Different partners focused on different communities, such as rural, immigrant and Deaf communities.


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Deaf Education in the Seventies