Thought we might like to see some more of George Veditz, one of the great presidents of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), see his words and advocacy. Many folks know of him from his “Preservation of Sign Language” speech in the NAD Moving Picture Project. Below is an excerpt from his President’s Message at the 1910 NAD 9th convention and the World’s Congress 3rd convention.
Proceedings of the Ninth Convention of the National Association and the Third World’s Congress of the Deaf. Colorado Springs, CO. August 6-13 1910
(Los Angeles, CA: The Philocophus Press, 1912, p. 27-29)
RESOLUTIONS ON METHODS OF EDUCATION …The World’s Congress at St. Louis in 1904 adopted a series of strong resolutions on educational methods. These resolutions were reiterated at Norfolk. In fact they were promulgated in substance at every one of our conventions beginning with Chicago in 1893.
Last fall it occurred to me that we might resolve and resolve until, to use a homely phrase, the cows come home, and nothing would come of it if we stopped right there. Accordingly, I selected six of these resolutions, had them printed and sent copies to the superintendent or principal of every state school for the deaf in this country, as well as of a number of pure oral day and boarding schools. Each was accompanied by a courteous request for expression of opinion. The resolutions referred to were as follows:
- Resolved, That we recognize and appreciate to the fullest extent all methods of educating the deaf, but deplore and condemn the narrow and destructive spirit that endeavors to educate all pupils by any single method. We are firmly and unalterably in favor of the Combined System, which adapts the method to the pupil, and not the pupil to the method. (Resolutions similar in tenor to the above were unanimously adopted at the Nation Convention sat Chicago 1893; Philadelphia, 1896; St. Paul 1899; St. Louis, 1904, and Norfolk, 1907.)
- Resolved, That the educated deaf, even though they may not be in the profession, feel that it is their privilege to discuss and pass upon questions of educational methods, inasmuch, as they are the results of these methods, and that their opinions therefore should have the weight of authority.
- Resolved, That to those deaf who have never acquired speech through the medium of the ear, speech as represented by the motions of the lips and mouths is a sign language and those oral teachers who decry the conventional language of signs and the manual alphabet are guilty of an inconsistency.
- Resolved, That, in our opinion, it is the duty of every teacher of the deaf, no matter what method he or she uses, to have a working command of the sign language.
- Resolved, That the highest educational interest of the deaf require an increased ratio of deaf teachers possessing the requisite intellectual and moral qualifications.
- Resolved, That the oral method, which withholds from the congenitally and quasi-congenitally deaf the use of the language of signs outside the school room, robs these children of their birthright.
A number of the superintendents responded promptly…. …
Right now let me say that a person who thus disregards the opinions of the educated and organized deaf has no license to pose as an educator of the deaf nor as the head of a school supported by the taxes of the people and of which they pay their share.
And right here let me say that the organized deaf do not understand their own might. It is in their power, if united, to dictate to the schools what methods of education should be pursued therein. Their cause is so palpably just that public, legislators and parents must in the end side with them.
Next up – EM Gllaudet and AG Bell’s replies.