Oral Schools

In 1867, two new schools were founded on the principle of "pure oralism": the Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes (now the Lexington School for the Deaf), in New York City and the Clarke Institution for Deaf-Mutes (now the Clarke School for the Deaf / Center for Oral Education) in Northampton, Massachusetts.  Both schools developed techniques for teaching by auditory and oral means alone-without the used of signs. Students received extensive speech lessons, and were trained to take advantage of whatever residual hearing they might have.

     
 

While oral schools used fundamentally different communication methods in the classroom, students often had residential experiences similar to deaf students attending "manual" schools and hearing students in boarding schools. They generally lived in dormitory settings, had social groups such as drama clubs and scouting, and formed close alumni associations.

 

CLARKE School for the Deaf/
Center for Oral Education

     
 

Oral teachers stressed early education for young children at a time when most schools admitted deaf students only after they had reached 10 or 12 years of age. The students above are from the Clarke Institution in Northampton, Massachusetts.

 

From Histories of American Schools for the Deaf, 1817-1893, ed. Edward Allen Fay (Washington, D.C, Volta Bureau).
Gallaudet University Archives

     
 

A Student listens as her teacher speaks into a tube at the McCowen Oral School in Chicago. The tube funnels sound to her ear, and this kind of "auricular" training was one way teachers tried to use residual hearing.

 

From Histories of American Schools for the Deaf, 1817-1893, ed. Edward Allen Fay (Washington, D.C, Volta Bureau).
Gallaudet University Archives

     

 

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