William Stokoe finally gets the world to hear

by Jude Mitchell

(Apple Valley, CA U.S.A.)

I actually have three favorites. The first is Ludwig Von Beethoven. He developed his own method of composing music even though he was deaf. By placing his cheek on the top of the piano while he played, he could actually feel the sound.

My second is Marlee Matlin. By watching her movies, I got my first personal exposure to someone who is deaf. It made me realize that the only difference between us was our form of language. This is when I decided that I would like to learn sign language. I want to show the same respect and consideration to all people that I meet, whether it is saying hello, excuse me, or I love that shirt!

Of all of the people involved in the history of sign language, my favorite is William Stokoe. Although he was a hearing person, he found a way to explain sign language to a hearing world that up to that point, appeared to be quite deaf themselves. Because of intolerance, ignorance, and discomfort, the whole world found it easier to cast out people who were not like them. The deaf community had been communicating with each other and the world around them since the beginning of time, yet no one else took the time to hear them.

I would like to add one more thing. I was totally surprised by the attitude of Alexander Graham Bell. I believed that he was into providing ways for people to communicate with each other because he knew the importance of human connection. I was wrong! If what I believed was true, he would have learned to communicate in sign language, and the TDD might have been invented long before it was.

Comments for William Stokoe finally gets the world to hear

Mar 18, 2010

Thank you

by: Jenn Phillps

Thank you so much for what you said about my Grandfather, Dr. William Stokoe. I myself am a linguistics major studying ASL and interpreting and am doing some research on Deaf Culture and History – that’s when i came across your post. My Grandfather was passionate about language and very misunderstood when he started his own research of the signed language he observed when he arrived at Gallaudet. He was determined to make people understand that this was just as much of a legitimate language as English or any other spoken language was. Although i know i’m biased, he’s my favorite, too.

Mar 05, 2010


by: Michelle Jay – Webmaster

What wonderful analysis! I completely agree with you and I love your metaphor of hearing people being deaf themselves, I think you’re absolutely right. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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