A A A

Archive for the 'Sign Language' Category

Official recognition of British Sign Language 1987-2003 – suggested reading

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 13 November 2013

This is intended to suggest some reading about how BSL came to be recognised by the British Government.  Feel free to suggest other source material. 

  • In 1987/88 the British Deaf Association mounted a campaign calling for the official recognition of BSL. The campaign report (see below) included the text of the EC regulation for official recognition of sign languages, which was successfully debated at Strasbourg in June 1988.

BRITISH DEAF ASSOCIATION. BSL – Britain’s fourth language: the case for official recognition for British Sign Language. BDA, 1987.

The European Parliament gave its total support for the recognition of Sign Languages.  British Deaf News, 1988, Jul, 1.

  • At the 3rd European Congress on Sign Language Research held in Hamburg in July 1989, delegates agreed a statement which lists the political action needed to alter the current situation.

Statement on the recognition of the national sign languages of the deaf. Prillwitz, S. and Vollhaber, T. Current trends in European sign language research. Signum Press, 1990. pp. 404-06.

  • A written question on official recognition of BSL was put to the Prime Minister by Jack Ashley, MP and answered by the PM (John Major) on Tuesday 18 June 1991. The extract from Hansard is as follows:

“MR JACK ASHLEY: To ask the Prime Minister, what is Her Majesty’s Government’s policy towards the recommendation of the EEC resolution of June 1988; and if he will give official recognition to British Sign for the Deaf.

THE PRIME MINISTER: The Government has noted the terms of the resolution on sign languages for deaf people adopted by the European Parliament in June 1988. We fully recognise the right of deaf people to use their preferred method of communication, including British Sign Language, and have grant aided a variety of organisations concerned with the promotion and development of sign languages and other communication techniques.”

  • Jack Ashley also tabled an Early Day Motion calling upon the Government to give official recognition to BSL and to remedy the current shortage of fully trained interpreters (EDM 943).

Sign Language. British Deaf News. 1991, Sep, 5.

  • A motion for the recognition of BSL as an official UK language failed to be accepted at the Labour Party Conference in 1997 because of the complications of the voting system.

Labour fails to recognise Sign Language.  British Deaf News, 1998, Jan, 3.

  • The European Parliament reiterated its support for the rights of deaf people to use sign language as their preferred language with a second resolution on sign languages.  Richard Howitt, MEP, announced the intention of asking the European Commission what had been done to implement the resolution.

Resolution on sign languages voted in European Parliament 10 years ago. EUD Update, 1998, May, 1.

  • The CACDP and BDA asked the Government why BSL is not included in the European Charter for Minority Languages.

European recognition for Gaelic – what about BSL?  British Deaf News, 1998, Aug, 1.

No recognition for BSL in Euro Charter. CACDP Standard, 1998, 33, 1.

  • BDA gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Disablement, as a first step in the BDA campaign to get BSL recognised as a minority language under the European Minority Languages Charter which the UK signed.

BDA takes campaign to Parliament. British Deaf News, 1999, Jun, 1.

  • Federation of Deaf People organised a march to present a petition calling for official recognition of British Sign Language at No. 10, Downing Street, June 1999.

4,000 march for British Sign Language. British Deaf News, 1999, Aug, 1, 6-7.

It’s our right to choose. Disability Times. 1999, Aug/Sep, 5.

RNID News Review, 1999, 28 Aug-10 Sep, 36.

Sign of the times. Disability Now, 1999, Aug, 1. (photo only)

  • UNISON (the UK’s largest trade union) supported a campaign for official recognition of BSL.

Unison joins campaign for BSL to be recognised. British Deaf News, 1999, Nov, 3.

  • British Deaf Association sent a delegation to meet MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) with the aim of getting legislation through the Scottish Parliament in its next session.

British Deaf Association calls on Scottish Parliament to recognise sign language. British Deaf News, 1999, Dec, 7.

  • On 16th of February 2000, the Scottish Parliament debated the official recognition of BSL.

Scots leading way on BSL. Disability Now, 2000, Mar, 1.

Historic Scottish Parliament BSL debate. Disability View, 2000, May/Jun, 37.
RNID News Review, 2000, 12-26 May, 21.

  • BDA published its sign language policy, to form the basis of a campaign to raise the status of BSL.

BDA sign language policy: summary of feedback from consultants. British Deaf News, 2000, Apr, 14-15.

  • Federation of Deaf People organises further marches in support of official recognition of BSL, summer 2000.

DAY, L. BSL recognition for Bristol! British Deaf news, 2000, Dec, 20.

My experience at the BSL Rally.  Deaf Arts UK, 2000, 13, 12-13 (Deaf children talk about their performances in Trafalgar Square.)

  • British Deaf Association launched a poster campaign calling for the official recognition of BSL, Autumn 2000.

The BDA shows the finger to the Government. British Deaf News, 2000, Nov, 16.

Poster hands out strong message. Disability Now, 2000, Nov, 4.

  • The London Borough of Barnet recognised BSL as an official Community Language.

Barnet recognises BSL. CACDP Standard, 2000, 42, 9.

  • The UK Council on Deafness organised a submission to the Disability Rights Commission calling for the official recognition of BSL: 25 out of 37 members signed the submission; 3 members specifically said they were unable to sign the submission – DELTA, the Ewing Foundation, and the RNID.

Deaf organisations join forces for official recognition. British Deaf News, 2000, Dec, 14.

BSL submission. Bulletin (UKCOD), 2001, Spring, 1.

  • The Disability Rights Commission published its advice to the Government on recognition of BSL.

See DRC website at: www.drc-gb.org

Sign language campaigners step up pressure on the Government. British Deaf News, 2001, Feb, 15.

  • BDA leaders met Margaret Hodge, Minister for Disabled people, to press for immediate action on BSL recognition.

BDA update: BSL recognition. British Deaf News, 2001, May, 21.

  • Police arrested protestors as a splinter group at a Wolverhampton rally in support of BSL recognition blocked city centre traffic.

Six arrested in Wolverhampton protest. British Deaf News, 2001, May, 6-7.

Delegation of representatives from deaf organisations meets Maria Eagle, Minister for Disabled people, on 31 January 2002.  Magazine (BATOD), 2002, Apr, 46.

  • Letter to Maria Eagle, drawing parallels with the Cornish language, September 2002.

BSL rec update. Information Bulletin (FDP), 2002, 6(2), 3.

  • Malcolm Bruce took up ‘recognition of sign languages’ challenge

British Deaf News, 2003, Jan, 13.

  • On 19 December 2002, MEPs voted in support of a Conservative proposal, which gave sign language its first recognition as a minority language.

British Deaf News, 2003, Feb, 13.

  • On 18 March 2003 the Government made a formal statement that it recognised that BSL is a language in its own right (quoting an estimated 70,000 people whose preferred language it is), and promising to invest £1 million in a programme of initiatives to support this statement.

British Deaf News, 2003, Apr, 5-7. (with text of statement); May, 26.

CACDP Standard, 2003, 52, 1-2.

WFD News. 2003, 16(2), 38. (with text of statement)

  • British Deaf News published results of its survey of city councils’ recognition of BSL

BSL recognition: city councils. British Deaf news, 2003, Jun, 12-13.

Articles:

ATHERTON, M. Welsh today, B.S.L. tomorrow? Deaf Worlds, 1999, 15(1), 11-15.

DARBY, A. and REDHEAD, C. Social work with deaf people. Deaf Worlds, 2000, 16(3), 69-73. (p. 73 refers to what recognition of BSL implies.)

BOWMAN, C. Official recognition of BSL: some insights from the Welsh Language Act 1993. Deaf Worlds, 2001, 17(1), 7-13.

KRAUSNEKER, V. Sign languages and the minority language policy of the European Union. In METZGER, M. Bilingualism and identity in deaf communities. 2000, Gallaudet University Press. pp. 142-158. (RNID Library location: UTB TNX)

KRAUSNEKER, V. Sign languages of Europe – future chances. In LEESON, L. Looking forward: EUD in the 3rd millenium…. 2001, Douglas McLean. pp. 64-73. (RNID Library location: Conf Coll/1998)

The status of sign languages in the European Union in 2001, and Overview of country-by-country analysis. EUD Update, 2001, 4(10), 1-30. (pp. 25-26 cover progress in the UK, including legislation to improve status of BSL).

AQUILINE C-A. Sign language recognition. WFD News, 2003, 1692), 7. (Lists countries that have recognised sign language with an indication of what ‘official recognition’ is in each country.)

TURNER, G. Government recognition and £1 million boost for British Sign Language. Deaf Worlds, 2003, 19(1), S74-S78.

Harpocrates – God of Silence

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 16 August 2013

Gisbert Cuper, or Gisbertus Cuperus as his name appears in the Latin in which he published, was a Dutch antiquarian and philologist (1644-1716).  The book of his we have in the library, bound with Antonius Borremansius’s Variarum Lectionum Liber, is called simply Harpocrates.  Harpocrates was the Greek and Roman God of Silence, adapted from the Egyptian Har-pa-khered in the Hellenistic period.  He was the child version of Horus, the newborn sun, depicted in statues as a child with a finger to his mouth.  This, representing a child, was misinterpreted by Greeks as meaning silence, and we see a depiction of that on the title page of the book here:

Harp 0 001

Throughout, our copy is heavily annotated in ink by a previous owner, but in a hand I cannot decipher.  I find the illustrations charming!  I confess I wondered if Harpo Marx got his name in any way from this god, being the brother who never spoke on screen, but although his brother Groucho joked that he had, he was named after his harp playing.

Harp 1 001Harp 2 001

Sign alphabet exhibition – The life and adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 29 July 2013

Although the exhibition is now over, I thought I would put up the last few items we had sent to be displayed on the blog.  A book that had to be omitted from the exhibition for reasons of space:

The life and adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell. In one volume. To which are added, The Dumb Philosopher, and everybody’s business is Nobody’s Business, [by Andrew Moreton]. Oxford: Printed by D.A. Talboys for Thomas Tegg… London. 1841. Attributed to Daniel Defoe

Duncan Campbell (c.1680–1730) was a Deaf soothsayer, who claimed to have been born in Lapland, probably to enhance his mystical credentials.  He was taught to read by a “learned divine of the University of Glasgow”, following the method of John Wallis.

The life and adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell has been frequently attributed to Daniel Defoe, “with little evidence […] but the views expressed on the supernatural in the work directly contradict arguments Defoe presents elsewhere, and Defoe is unlikely to have written for his enemy Edmund Curll.”  In fact the anonymous writer was probably William Bond, who then lived in the same house as Campbell in Exeter Court on the Strand.

A follow up to this book, Secret Memoirs of the Late Mr Duncan Campbell, appeared after he had died in 1732, clearly as a way of promoting Campbell’s wife’s business selling his talismans and potions.

 

T. F. Henderson, ‘Campbell, Duncan (c.1680–1730)’, rev. David Turner, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2005 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4494, accessed 13 June 2013]

 

Sign alphabet exhibition – Joseph Watson’s Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 5 July 2013

A set of two volumes unfortunately left out of the exhibition for reasons of space;

Instruction of the deaf and dumb; or, A theoretical and practical view of the means by which they are taught to speak and understand a language, containing hints for the correction of impediments of speech. Together with A vocabulary; illustrated by numerous copperplates, representing the most common objects necessary to be named by beginners printed by Darton and Harvey, 1809. by Joseph Watson, 1809

Plate 1Joseph Watson (1765-1829) worked for Thomas Braidwood (1715-1806) from 1784, and became headmaster of the London Asylum for the Deaf & Dumb in the Old Kent Road (see earlier blog posts for more on this institution).

Plates 3 001

In Instruction of the deaf and dumb Watson wrote that “Persons born deaf are, in fact, neither depressed below, nor raised above, the general scale of human nature, as regards their dispositions and powers, either of body or mind.”  He considers what language is, and describes how he goes about “communicating a knowledge of language to the naturally deaf and dumb.”  The second part of the work, sometimes printed in a separate volume (1810), has lists of vocabulary and plates designed to encourage a child to acquire an understanding of written & spoken language.

Plates 1 001The illustrations in the volume of plates are delightful glimpses in everyday life in Georgian England.  Individual pictures are not labelled, so this meant children were not restricted to learning one set term for an object or scene.  One copy we have is so well used that most of the plates are loose.  Plate one above shows various types of people; plate 6 show agricultural workers; plate 7 shows watchmen, a highway robbery and dust cart men.  Some of them have been annotated by a child – in plate 69 behind the hedge, a hunter holding a gun can be seen!

Sign alphabet exhibition – Guide to Chirology

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 5 July 2013

Guide to chirology. Watford, H.Ash. 18-?

Harry Ash (1863-1934) perhaps produced this pamphlet initially in the late1880s or the 1890s.  A pencil note on the first page says ‘Design at 24.  “X” marked on each.’  If this is a note by Ash, it would suggest that those parts were designed in 1887/8.  It is interesting that Ash, who, in his last five months at school had taught himself French while the other boys were sleeping, revived the term ‘chirology’ that was used by Bulwer.

I have scanned the whole document as a pdf here – Guide to Chirology.  It is very much of its time and has stereotypes we would avoid today.

 

 

 

Sign alphabet exhibition – Education for the people

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 4 July 2013

Education for the people. By Mrs Hippisley Tuckfield, London, Taylor and Walton, 1839.

Charlotte Hippisley Tuckfield, née Mordaunt (1777-1848) was the wife of Richard Hippisley Tuckfield, of Devon.  They inherited property at Little Fulford and Charlotte had the lodge at nearby Posbury House converted into a training centre for school teachers.  This later became part of the University of Exeter.

Published initially in The Cottager’s monthly visitor, (1824-6), in Education for the people, Charlotte Hippisley Tuckfield devoted the fourth section of the book to the education of deaf children.  It takes the form of a series of letters.

http://www.posbury.org.uk/stlukes.html

http://www.boddyparts.co.uk/hippisleyfamily.htm

Hippisley TuckfieldThrough the left hand page you can just make out Selwyn Oxley’s hideously spidery handwriting, which is in most of the historical books!

Sign alphabet exhibition – Vox oculis

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 4 July 2013

Vox oculis subjecta: A dissertation on the most curious and important art of imparting speech and the knowledge of language to the naturally deaf and, consequently, dumb. With a particular account of the academy of Messrs. Braidwood of Edinburgh, and a proposal to perpetuate and extend the benefits thereof  by a parent. London, Benjamin White, 1783

The anonymous author was in fact Francis Green (1742-1809) whose son attended Thomas Braidwood’s Edinburgh school.  Green, who was born in Boston, served in the British army as an officer for nine years.  Remaining a loyalist in the War of Independence he left for Britain in 1780, where his eight year old son was educated in Braidwood’s Academy for the next six years.  Returning to Halifax, Nova Scotia and later Medford, Massachusetts, Green continued his interest in deaf education, translating works of the Abee de l’Epee into English.

“Man as a social being has an irresistible propensity to communicate with his species, to receive the ideas of others, and to impart his own conceptions” Green says in the introduction to Vox oculis subjecta.  In the first part he surveys the natural capacity of humans for language, quoting extensively from authors such as Holder and Bulwer, before going into a description of how Braidwood’s school worked in the second part.

IMGP0816
Winzer, Margret A. The History of Special Education: From Isolation to Integration. RNID WLG

Sign alphabet exhibition – a Mug with the Manual Alphabet

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 4 July 2013

Mug with manual alphabet

Mug 1This mug has no maker’s mark, but similar earthenware mugs from Staffordshire with what appears to be the same sign transfer pattern, have been dated to the early 19th Century, ca. 1820 and ca. 1840.

Note how the ‘Q’ differs from the later sign alphabet.

The mug was donated to the Library by Mrs P.J. Bierschenk over twenty years ago. Click on images for a larger size.

Mug 2

Sign alphabet exhibition – A Collection of the Most Remarkable Definitions and Answers of Massieu and Clerc

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 4 July 2013

A collection of the most remarkable definitions and answers of Massieu and Clerc, Deaf and Dumb, to the various questions put to them, at the public lectures of the Abbé Sicard, in London; to which are joined The manual alphabet of the Deaf and Dumb, the Abbé’s Introductory Discourse, and a letter explanatory of his system With notes and an English translation by J.H. Sievrac. London, printed four Massieu & Clerc by Cox & Baylis, 1815 by M. Laffon de Ladebat with notes and an English translation by J.H. Sievrac 1815

Jean Massieu (1772 –1846) was born Deaf and became a teacher of the Deaf.  Louis Laurent Marie Clerc (1785 –1869),”The Apostle of the Deaf in America” was taught by Massieu and l’Abbé Sicard (1742-1822)Moving to the U.S.A. with Thomas Gallaudet, Clerc co-founded the school in Conneticut which is now The American School for the Deaf.

massieu clercThe author, André-Daniel Laffon de Ladebat (1746 –1829), philanthropist & banker, was himself a remarkable man.  He was a protestant French noble who joined the revolution as a moderate, but fell out with both Napoleon and later the restored Bourbons.  An early slavery abolitionist, in 1788 he wrote Discourse on the Necessity and the Means of Abolishing Slavery in the Colonies.

After an introductory lecture by Sicard, A collection of the most remarkable definitions and answers of Massieu and Clerc, Deaf and Dumb takes the form of a series of questions posed by various members of polite society answered by Massieu and Clerc, which illustrate their eloquence & high level of education.

IMGP0815One of our copies of this book, not in this exhibition, has a letter from Sicard inside the front cover – see below.  This copy was owned by Charles Rhind (here written ‘Rhynd’ by Selwyn Oxley) who we covered in an earlier post.

Very kindly, a translation has been made for us by Lucas Rivet-Crothers (with some additions by Mike Gulliver):

Comme tout le monde sait, mon respectable collègue, que toute votre vie se passe en bonnes œuvres et que par conséquent je ne dois ni ne puis l’ignorer, je puis donc sans indiscrétion vous adresser un des membres d’une famille nombreuse, une des plus dignes d’estime et d’intérêt que je connaisse qui deviendront le sauveur de la sienne si vous daigner lui procurer une place quelconque, quelque médiocre qu’elle fut, il fut dans sa première jeunesse dans les hôpitaux militaires, l’appui, le soutien, la consolation des infortunés confiés à ses soins. Son père, son frère, ses sœurs, tous les siens se sont montrés toujours des modèles de toutes les vertus civiles et religieuses. Permettez lui de vous entretenir, quelques instants, de leur fâcheuse position et daigner descendre jusqu’à lui et vous ne ferez pas sans en etre touché et sans lui tendre une main bienfaisante en protectrice…
To my esteemed colleague: As everyone knows, your life has been spent in good works, and this is something that I must not, indeed cannot, ignore. And so, without any feeling of discomfort, may I recommend to you a member of a large family (one of the most worthy of esteem and interest that I know) who would be the saviour of that family if you could provide him with a position, however humble it might be. In his younger years, he worked in military hospitals where he was a support and a consolation to those unfortunate enough to find themselves in his care. His father, his brother, his sisters, all of his kin have shown themselves to be models of civil and religious virtue. Converse with him for only a few minutes and he will tell you of the difficult position in which they find themselves. Engage with him and you will assuredly be moved by his predicament, and find yourself extending to him your protection and goodwill.

Click for a larger image.

Sicard letter 001

 

 

Sign alphabet exhibition – Digiti-lingua

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 3 July 2013

Digiti-lingua, or, The most compendious, copious, facile, and secret way of silent Converse ever yet discovered.  Shewing, how any two persons may be capable, in half an hours time, to discourse together by their fingers only, and as well in the dark as the light… By a person who has conversed no otherwise in above nine Years. The figures curiously engraved on copper plates. London, P.Buck, 1698.  Anonymous 1698.

[The second illustration of the manual alphabet (fig. 2) has been cut out of this copy; it is reproduced in Quarterly Review of Deaf Mute Education, 1889, 2, between p.40-41, in an article by Farrar on the history of manual alphabets.]

digiti front pages

The anonymous author was “obliged (thro’ an unfortunate impediment) to these, or some such like methods of Converse, for now near ten years last past”.  He critiques the “pretty piece of Ingenuity, intituled Sermo Mirabilis” as slower and less easy to follow, saying “All that can be done by the directions given in Sermo Mirabilis, may be more quick, free, and easily done, by the Alphabets here delivered, and much more”.

I have photographed the whole text as a pdf here (lower quality as I am limited to 9MB ‘uploads’ unfortunately) Digiti lingua.