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Archive for June, 2012

Aberdeen Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb

H Dominic W Stiles29 June 2012

ABERDEEN INSTITUTION FOR THE EDUCATION OF THE DEAF AND DUMB (1817-?); later the Aberdeen School for the Deaf

As with the Glasgow Institution, it was inspired by the Edinburgh Institution and its teacher Mr Kinniburgh.  It began at a house in upper Kirkgate in Whitsun 1819, later moving to School-hill.  The young teacher, Mr Taylor, was sent to train in Paris under the Abbe Sicard in 1818.  When Taylor resigned in 1833 a Deaf teacher, Mr Burns, took over until 1841.  From 1841 the teacher was Mr. Weir. In 1909, when the head was Alexander Pender (see picture below, with what appear to be long johns under his kilt!), there were 21 pupils at the school.

A rival day school was set up in 1818 ‘by a person of the name of England’ but it was unsuccessful and closed after a few years.

The school is still going, and has a link to the Education Secretary Michael Gove whose mother taught there.

History. Annual report, 1821. pp. 12-15. [photocopy of original]

Aberdeen Institution – in The Edinburgh Messenger, No.7, p.69-75, June 1844.

New development for Aberdeen School. British Deaf News, 1998, Jun, 3.

Annual Reports – 1821 (photocopy), 1844-6, 1846-1847, 1879, 1910-1912

Mission work in a constituted form did not however begin in Aberdeen until the late 19th century, something we see in other parts of the country.  The Aberdeen Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society (1895-1959) was founded in 1895, later becoming The Aberdeen & N.E. Society for the Deaf (1960-? ) and The Aberdeen and North East Deaf Society (?-2010). Money problems were a constant issue for these missions, which have always lived on public generosity or small assets, and sadly the Aberdeen society crashed in 2010 with large debts.

We have the following annual reports –

1899-1922 (Bound volume), 1900-1970/71, 1976/77-1980/81 loose

One person of note connected with the mission was  William Wright (1859-1941). The son of deafened parents, he became Missioner at the Aberdeen Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society in 1896. His son Hugh was Missioner at the Glamorgan and Monmouth Institute from 1931-39 and his daughter-in-law became Matron at Castelview Home in Edinburgh from 1945-62.

WRIGHT, T. William Wright. Deaf History Journal, 2001, 4(3), 18-20.

Two rare but ‘modern’ items

H Dominic W Stiles22 June 2012

Two ‘modern’ but still ‘historical’ items for you today.

The first which was re-discovered by one of our visitors, is a satirical pamphlet dated 1993 by our former librarian. Called The Dirty Earmould, (click onto the picture for a larger size) this is the product of an anonymous Deaf activist or activists from the time when Deaf radicalism was becoming militant in its opposition to being treated as ‘colonies’, in the terminology of Paddy Ladd (Understanding Deaf Culture, 2004, p. 72). It is not subtle but goes for the jugular; How can I tell if my mother is an oralist, “Fact: Grey haired fuddy-duddies and tarts can fall prey to oralism”; Letters – “Dear Sir, Today I looked out of my window and to my horror, I saw two deaf children. They were waving their hands about in a most violent manner reminiscent of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Can nothing be done to stop this exhibitionist streak in modern children?”;  “How many oralists does it take to change a lightbulb? Nine, one of them to hold the bulb in the mouth, the other eight to turn the oralist round.” etc.

The second item is a lecture given by the sign language researcher Mary Brennan at the Leeds Incorporated Institution for the Blind and Deaf at their A.G.M. in November 1978. Brennan, who died on 23rd of June 2005, called her talk The Rising Status of Non-verbal Communication.

Brennan points out that in Shakespeare’s age,

a great debate was going on as to the worthiness and adequacy of the English Language. Before that time most of the important works, in for example, Religion and Philosophy, had been written in Latin or Greek as it was assumed that it was impossible to express abstract ideas and complex thought in English. Seen from the perspective of the twentieth century, this seems absolutely ludicrous.

[she explores this theme further and then continues]

William Labov, an American linguist, who has studied the language of black American speakers, has said that the prejudice against certain dialects is caused by ignorance of the basic facts about human language and the people who speak it. It seems to me that this is exactly the case in relation to the status of the non-verbal communication system used by the deaf community. While many experts on deaf education or deaf welfare remain uninformed about the nature of sign language, the prejudice against sign language will continue. But, in changing people’s attitudes to the language of the deaf, we are changing people’s attitudes to deaf people themselves.In achieving a proper status for the communication of deaf people we are achieving a recognition of the rights and dignity of deaf people themselves.

This copy is probably rare and may be unique. This sort of ‘grey literature’ illustrated by these two items, is found in abundance in the R.N.I.D. library. It does not perhaps carry the weight of peer-reviewed studies, but it can in fact give colour to and illuminate a topic and a period in a way that other sources cannot. Here’s to ephemera!

Brennan, Mary. The Rising Status of Non-verbal Communication. Unpublished (?) photocopy

Brien, David ed. Dictionary of British sign language; with an introduction by Mary Brennan ; compiled for the British Deaf Association by the Deaf Studies Research Unit, University of Durham

Brennan, Mary, Colville, Martin D., Lawson, Lilian K. Words in hand : a structural analysis of the signs of British sign language /  –  [2nd ed.] / [revised by Gerry Hughes]

James McLean, Deaf Cardiff City footballer

H Dominic W Stiles15 June 2012

Sports are sociable activities that bring people together so it is no surprise that they have featured very strongly in the history of Deaf people in the U.K., as we have noted in previous posts. However there have not been many who have also competed at the highest level. One problem is playing to the whistle.

the perception that an inability to speak or hear clearly automatically causes difficulties for all involved, may well have conspired to deny many talented deaf footballers the opportunities a few others have had. (Atherton, 1999)

A player who did play professional football was James or William MacLean (sometimes given as Mclean) of Cardiff City. There is a very small mention of him in Atherton et.al. (2000),[*] where the information came from his daughter. He played with Cardiff from 1923-6.

Click for a larger size larger size.

This newspaper article, from a photo in the library collection, is typical of its age (1920s) in its tone. They do not know Mclean’s first name and seem amazed that he could learn to speak.

[* Atherton et al give his name as William on one page (58) and James on another (59) and have his surname spelled McLean. I imagine that perhaps he was James William or William James but that his family used a different christian name from that his colleagues used.]

For more on professional Deaf footballers –

Atherton, M, Russell, D. & Turner G.H., Deaf Footballers in the Professional Game, Chapter 6 in Deaf United. Forest Books, 2000

Atherton, M. Kicking down the barriers: Deaf players in professional football. Deaf History Journal, 1999 Vol. 3 (1):21-27

Atherton, M. PLAYING TO THE FLAG: A HISTORY OF DEAF FOOTBALL AND DEAF FOOTBALLERS IN BRITAIN The Sports Historian, No.19,1 (May,1999), pp. 38-60

See also http://www.friendsreunited.co.uk/soccer-football-league-division-one-cardiff-city/Memory/29e20a7b-eb4f-4542-be56-a00b015377b1



A hearing dog in the 19th century!

H Dominic W Stiles12 June 2012

On our Twitter account @Hearing_Library we follow that worthy cause Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, which has been going for 30 years. I just came across this story from Dr. W.R. Roe’s Derby Institution magazine, Our Deaf and Dumb for September 1892. After discussing whether animals are ever born deaf (with an example of a deaf cow and blue-eyed cats), concluding that examples of deaf dogs and horses do not seem to have been observed, the author continues,

We have, however, heard of a deaf and dumb lady living in a German city, who had, as a companion, a younger woman, who was also deaf and dumb. They lived in a small set of rooms opening on the public corridor of the house. Somebody gave the elder lady a dog as a present. For some time, whenever anybody rang the bell at the door, the dog barked to call the attention of his mistress. The dog soon discovered, however, that neither the bell nor the barking made any impression on the women, and he took up the practice of merely pulling one of them by the dress with his teeth, in order to explain that some one was at the door. Gradually the dog ceased to bark altogether, and for more than seven years before his death he remained as mute as his two companions.

So hearing dogs are not new!

Click for larger image

Miss E. Carter’s Deaf School, Church Gate, Leicester

H Dominic W Stiles8 June 2012

Miss E. Carter‘s School at Church Gate, Leicester, was not as I first said here, comparatively short lived. It was started as early as 1884, with a deaf class in the local Education Board School in Milton Street, and fell under the auspices of the Leicester Education Committee, as we see from the Deaf Handbook compiled by the National Bureau for Promoting the General Welfare of the Deaf (1913, p.3).  In 1888, according to the British History Online website (see link above), another class was started at a school in Elbow Lane.   In 1894 a school in Archdeacon Lane became dedicated to the education of the deaf.  In 1903 the school moved to Short Street, in space hired from the Friends’ Adult School.  Exactly when after that the school moved to Church Gate, I cannot be sure, but suppose it was not long after.In 1913 the school held up to thirty pupils from the age of five, and they were taught with the Oral method. Miss Carter was a member of the National Association of Teachers of the Deaf – and she gave a paper at a National Congress in 1913, on the education of deaf girls.  I have struggled to find out more about her, like her first name, but I have discovered from Selwyn Oxley’s card index, that when she retired, Miss A. Metcalf from Tottenham was appointed, and the school closed at Church Gate, moving to a building called ‘Stoneleigh,’  in Stoneygate Road,* then on the outskirts of the town, in 1927.  It closed in the 1980s.

In the 1920s the Leicester Deaf Missioner was Leslie Edwards.  I looked  through a number of the mission reports, expecting to see mention of the school, but there was nothing that jumped out.

As well as local authority schools, there were quite a few small private schools across the UK in the 19th and early 20th centuries which obviously filled a need.  Some managed to thrive like Mary Hare’s, but eventually most of them would close when the leading teacher(s) retired.   These photos are from the Oxley collection so date from some time from approximately 1914 to the mid or late 1920s.

Click onto the pictures for a larger size.

Blog re-written 15/9/2017

UPDATE: 9/9/2019

The greater part of records concerning the Stoneleigh School for Deaf Children are held by the Record Office of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, while there are also some at the National Archives at Kew: although those at Kew cover the years 1935-1942. The National Archives’ reference is ED 32/968: no indication of what the material consists of was given on their catalogue.

The Record Office of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland has the Logbook for the Deaf School for the years 1955-1981 (reference DE 2275/3), the admissions register for the years 1932-1969 (DE 2275/8), the Summary Register (Deaf) for the period September 1959 to July 1964 (DE 2275/12) and the subsequent volume covering September 1964 to July 1969 (DE 2275/13).

These records are partially closed under the Data Protection Act, and you would need to contact the Record Office to discuss access; you will be able to see information relating to you, if you attended the school, but there will be restrictions on the information regarding other people you can see. Their email address is recordoffice@leics.gov.uk and their website is http://www.recordoffice.org.uk/.

*Stoneygate Street is a tautologous name, as ‘gate’ is Danish for ‘street’ and is a loan word from the time of Scandinavian settlement!

Subtitles or captions – some recent articles

H Dominic W Stiles7 June 2012

There is at present some pressure for more captions or subtitles to be made available on web content among other places (search for example with #captionTHIS on Twitter). However, for some Deaf people or people with hearing difficulties this may not help as there are other factors involved such as the speed of captions appearing on the screen, particularly with literal translation, and also the reading ability of the person. People who may have sign language but have low or no reading ability of English or their national language, are therefore often excluded from national life and isolated. Here are a few articles from Medline (via PubMed) that look at subtitles or captions:

Parameters in television captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing adults: effects of caption rate versus text reduction on comprehension.

Burnham D, Leigh G, Noble W, Jones C, Tyler M, Grebennikov L, Varley A.

J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2008 Summer;13(3):391-404. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

PMID: 18372297  Free Article
Near-verbatim captioning versus edited captioning for students who are deaf or hard of hearing: a preliminary investigation of effects on comprehension.

Ward P, Wang Y, Paul P, Loeterman M.

Am Ann Deaf. 2007 Spring;152(1):20-8.

PMID: 17642361

Verbatim, standard, or edited? Reading patterns of different captioning styles among deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing viewers.

Szarkowska A, Krejtz I, Klyszejko Z, Wieczorek A.

Am Ann Deaf. 2011 Fall;156(4):363-78.

PMID: 22256538

Comprehension of television messages by deaf students at various stages of education.

Cambra C, Silvestre N, Leal A.

Am Ann Deaf. 2009 Winter;153(5):425-34.

PMID: 19350951


Derby conference, Teachers of the Deaf, 1920

H Dominic W Stiles1 June 2012

On December 11th 1920, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell attended the Derby meeting of the Executive of the National College of Teachers of the Deaf, attending a luncheon in his honour. Click onto the picture for a larger image. The photograph has a number of well remembered teachers of the Deaf as well as those who have faded from memory. On the front row extreme right we have the oralist Mary Adelaide Hare (1875-1945),  Principal of Dean Hollow Oral School, Burgess Hill. The grammar school named after her was a re-foundation of this school. On the extreme left of the front row, Blanche Nevile (1871-1962), the first headmistress (1895-1925) of Tottenham Day School (later the Blanche Nevile School). We have some early records of that school in the library.  To the right of white-bearded Bell is A.J. Story, who we have talked about before. Between Nevile and Story is George Sibley Haycock (1871-1944). Haycock was a pupil teacher at the Doncaster Institution for the Deaf in 1885, later becoming head of the Fitzroy Square Training College for Teachers of the Deaf (1907-19).

Behind Story in the second row is Miss D. E. Baker (1881-1947) Head of the Gem Street Deaf School in Birmingham. Fourth from the left in the second row is F. Ince Jones, of the Northampton School.

At the back on the extreme left is Frank G. Barnes (1866-1932), headmaster of Homerton School for the Deaf, 1900-21. The school moved to Penn in 1921. Next to him is N.S. Folwell who was later Head at The Mount, Stoke. At the extreme right in the back row, William Carey Roe, O.B.E. (1887-1952).  Carey Roe was a teacher under Story at Stoke, and just a couple of years after this photograph he became first secretary for the National Institute for the Deaf.

For more information on these people see – Teacher of the Deaf, various issues.