Look, I Can Talk With My Fingers!
"Early in human history, humans used simple sign language to express basic ideas. Even when vocal communication became the mainstream form of interaction, people would still use hand and facial gestures to enhance ideas in communication. When people were found to be deaf in ancient times, they were often persecuted and mistreated; therefore, deaf people were not given the chance to work on creating a language. This lasted until the 1500's Pedro Ponce de Leon, a Benedictine monk, created his own form of sign language to bypass his "vow of silence". This form of sign language may have been then taught to deaf children later on. In 1620, Juan Pablo Bonet wrote a sign language dictionary that outlined how to learn sign language and contained the first sign language alphabet. His sign language alphabet later influenced deaf communication when the first schools for the deaf were opened. In addition, Martha's Vineyard was an area that was settled by about 200 immigrants who carried dominant and recessive genes for deafness, so the inhabitants came up with their own kind of sign language and taught their descendants how to learn sign language."
When I was a young child we were having a family dinner in a restaurant. I remember watching a couple at the next table and I was mesmerized by what they were doing. They smiled at each other, their facial expression changed rapidly as they moved their lips but they didn't make any sound. They moved their hands and fingers as if they were doing a well-choreographed dance.
My mother touched my arm and whispered to me, "You know it's rude to stare at people, right?"
"What are they doing?" I whispered back.
"They're talking to each other."
"No, mom," I argued. "They're not saying anything."
"They're deaf," mom explained. "They can't hear, so they're talking to each other with sign language."
"Why can't they hear?"
"Some deaf people are born that way and others get sick and lose their hearing."
"Why can't the doctor fix it?"
"Well, some people are not completely deaf and they can use a hearing aid, but others can't be fixed so they learn sign language to talk to each other."
I will never forget the mixed feelings that swirled in my mind and I kept asking my parents about what deafness might feel like. When we got home mom handed me two cotton balls and said, "Put these in your ears if you want to find out what it feels like."
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Erika M Szabo
I write magical realism, alternate history, epic fantasy novels as well as fun, educational and bilingual books for children ages 2-14
We blog and have fun together at #OurAuthorGang
Visit our blog HERE
Magical realism trilogy
Suspense, suitable for young adults
Fantasy adventure for children 8-14
Illustrated storybooks for children 4-12
Picture books for children 2-6
Health related books
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Copyright 2012 © Erika M Szabo
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