Bullied for 100 years, the deaf seek justice

Summarized by Hannah F. Mann, staff writer

The Swiss federation for the deaf has called for an official apology from institutions which banned sign language in schools from the end of the 19th century.

After convening in Milan, Italy in 1880, the International Congress on Education for the Deaf (ICED) forbade sign language from being used in Swiss deaf schools. Students caught signing were often punished severely, and forced to use lipreading and speech. Without the ability to communicate easily, deaf students generally struggled in acquiring a strong linguistic foundation and consequently fell behind in their education. In an attempt to counter this dismal trend, many educators continued to use and advocate oral education.

Since the ICED formally apologized last month for its century-long ban on sign language, the Swiss Federation for the Deaf is now asking for an apology from various institutions that carried out the ban. In addition, the SFD also seeks to increase deaf people’s involvement in deaf education, particularly regarding mainstreaming and cochlear implantation.

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