Except for sporadic attempts by clerics in past centuries, there was no well-organized effort to help the hearing-impaired until the Abbé Charles Michel de l'Epée founded a school for the deaf in Paris in 1755. Samuel Heinicke established another one in Germany in 1778. The first public school for the deaf in the United States was founded (1817) in Hartford, Conn., by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet; it is now called the American School for the Deaf. Alexander Graham Bell and his father, Alexander Melville Bell, did much to establish the study of speech on a scientific basis and to improve the methods of teaching the hearing-impaired. Educational and employment opportunities for the deaf have improved since passage of legislation in 1973 that prohibited discrimination against the handicapped by any institution receiving federal money and of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.