French Deafs during the 1900’s period : a fight for equality

Friday, November 1, 2013
First author:
Yann Cantin
The Rights of Belonging


Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales/Centre de Recherches Historiques, Paris, France
All authors:

Yann Cantin

Public Policy & Rigths
Deaf, society, equality, identity


The deaf’s situation had changed since 1880, with the banishment of the sign language in the deaf french schools. So, this change was important, not only on education level, but social and life levels too.

So, one detail is important: evolutions of discourses on deaf place in the society. Deaf people educated before 1880’s claim the equality, not social favor, and so fight against the social injustices on deafs. And, when french government propose to reduce taxs for deafs, to help them. They rejected it for a reason : «We’re like other people, we want just equality!». But, after the World War I, discourses changed. More and more deafs admit the physical inequality.


Research is based on deafs discourses published in newspapers and books like Gazette des Sourds-Muets, Journal des Sourds-Muets, Revue des Sourds-Muets, la France Silencieuse... And, based too on deaf witness about the deaf situation and relation with the french society.


A possible response: discourses in the deafs schools claim the inequality for deafs, if they don’t talk. And the extinction of deaf teachers, social models for youngest geneations... These discourses where vehiculed by teachers of these schools, and the medical view on deafness. So, the influence of these discourses, and the extinction of deaf teachers had impacted the deaf community on two principal ways: society place and vision on the deafs.


The Impact of educational reform in 1880 is important, not only on educational level, but in social place too. Now, in the 21th century, the influence exists again.