Historical Background
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Sign Language:
Historical Background

1. Deafness and Deaf people are as old as humanity itself but the earliest recorded history of the communication and education of deaf people was in the 16th century. Deaf children of very rich parents in Spain were placed under the care of a monk to be taught how to speak. Speech was required in order to acquire wealth.

2. This marked the beginning of the oral vs. Sign Language controversy, which raged on for centuries.

3. The oral method involves teaching or communicating with Deaf people through the medium of spoken language (speech). This method was highly developed in Germany and became known as the "German Method".

4. The use of Sign Language was highly developed and used in schools for the Deaf in France, hence the name "French Method".

5. In 1880 there was an attempt to eradicate Sign Language from the face of the earth. A conference in Milan (Italy) which was attended by hearing teachers and educationalists but which excluded Deaf people, passed a resolution which banned the use of Sign Language in schools of the Deaf.

6. Sign Language became an underground language. Deaf children used Sign Language outside the classroom situation and so it remained a living and natural language.

7. In 1960 a scientific research report on American Sign Language (ASL) showed that Sign Language was a natural human language with its own grammar, independent of any spoken language. Sign Languages could be analyzed at any of the same levels used for spoken languages in terms of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics and discourse analysis.

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8. In the 1970s, Simultaneous Communication (Simcom) or Total Communication (TC) was developed. This is a system adapted by the oralists in an attempt to represent English visually. Sim-com/TC involves signing and speaking at the same time. Remember English or any spoken language has its own grammar, as does Sign Language. When you use both languages at the same time, you violate the grammar of both languages.

9. The 1980s saw the advent of the bilingual-bicultural approach. According to this approach Deaf people use Language and written/read/spoken language e.g. English, Zulu, Afrikaans, etc. It acknowledges that Deaf people live in two cultures, the one being the majority (hearing) and the other being their own culture namely Deaf Culture. Hearing people who come into contact and interact with Deaf people, e.g. parents, siblings, teachers and society in general also learn to function in two cultures.

10. And in 2003 SignGenius developed the evolutionary Sign Language Software to assist people who wants to Learn Sign Language. It also shows to improve the spelling of Deaf People. SignGenius SASL, for the South African Sign Language, and Signgenius ASL, for the American Sign Language, are currently the most comprehensive Sign Language Software available. Why don't you download a free copy and check it out.

   I got it downloaded!  It is great!  I will play around with the demo version and will most likely order it.  I think I will be very happy with it.  Is is a one time fee?  Thanks so much!  Marci***

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