History Through Deaf Eyes – Signers Respond

It is a lamentable fact that, in matters relating to the deaf, their education and well-being, few if any take the trouble to get the opinion of the very people most concerned-the deaf themselves.

~ John H. Keiser, Gallaudet Class of 1905

If you try to suppress signs you will teach deceit, for the deaf will always use it on the sly.

~ Francis Maginn, Gallaudet Class of 1889

From the standpoint of a totally deaf person, proficient in speech and lip-reading, and with forty years’ experience in the art, I can only say that lip-reading at its best is a matter of skillful guess work, and a sorry mess we sometimes make of it.

~ Anson R. Spear, Gallaudet Class of 1884

Nature hates force. Just as the flowing stream seeks the easier path, so the mind seeks the way of least resistance. The sign-language offers to the deaf a broad and smooth avenue for the inflow and outflow of thought, and there is no other avenue for them like unto it.

~ George M. Teegarden, Gallaudet Class of 1876

Organizations of deaf people, such as the National Association of the Deaf, formed in 1880, rose to the defense of sign language. Calling signing the “natural language of the deaf”, they argued that oral communication alone was inadequate for many deaf people.

George Veditz, president of the National Association of the Deaf

George Veditz, president of the National Association of the Deaf from 1907 to 1910, encouraged filming of skilled signers to preserve the language. In 1913, Veditz was filmed discussing the preservation and beauty of sign language.

Gallaudet University Archives