Was AGBell really “The Father of the Deaf”?
Who proclaimed AGBell “The Father of the Deaf”?
This information was found in
Alexander Graham Bell (3 March 1847 – 2 August 1922) was an eminent scientist, inventor and innovator. Most often associated with the invention of the telephone, Bell was also called “the father of the deaf”. His father, grandfather and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech, and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell’s life’s work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices that eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first U.S. patent for the invention of the telephone in 1876.
Along with many very prominent thinkers and scientists of the time, Bell was connected with the eugenics movement in the United States. In his lecture Memoir upon the formation of a deaf variety of the human race presented to the National Academy of Sciences on 13 November 1883 he noted that congenitally deaf parents were more likely to produce deaf children and tentatively suggested that couples where both parties were deaf should not marry. However, it was his hobby of livestock breeding which led to his appointment to biologist David Starr Jordan’s Committee on Eugenics, under the auspices of the American Breeders Association. The committee unequivocally extended the principle to man. From 1912 until 1918 he was the chairman of the board of scientific advisers to the Eugenics Record Office associated with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and regularly attended meetings. In 1921, he was the honorary president of the Second International Congress of Eugenics held under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Organisations such as these advocated passing laws (with success in some states) that established the compulsory sterilization of people deemed to be, as Bell called them, a “defective variety of the human race”. By the late 1930s, about half the states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, and the California laws were used as a model for eugenics laws in Nazi Germany.
His ideas about people he considered defective centered on the deaf. This was because of his feelings for his deaf family and his contact with deaf education. In addition to advocating sterilization of the deaf, Bell wished to prohibit deaf teachers from being allowed to teach in schools for the deaf. He worked to outlaw the marriage of deaf individuals to one another, and he was an ardent supporter of oralism over the use of sign language to educate deaf students.
His avowed goal was to eradicate the language and culture of the deaf so as to encourage them to assimilate into the hearing culture, for their own long-term benefit and for the benefit of society at large.
Although he supported what some consider harsh and inhumane policies today, he was not unkind to deaf individuals who supported his theories of oralism.
Is AGBell really “the father of the deaf”?…when he was an eugenicist towards Deaf Culture and Sign Language? He supported genocidal-like plans toward Deaf people’s natural language!