The History of American Sign Language (ASL)
By Coloring Buddy Mike
American Sign Language has a rich history. Men of love developed the education of the deaf.
Juan Bonet, a Spaniard, invented hand, mouth, body signs, and alphabet for the deaf mute in the year 1620. The Mayflower pilgrims sailed that year from England.
Bonet was secretary to the Constable of Castile. Bonet watched the training of Luis, the constable's deaf son. Bonet took over Luis' education. To make Luis understand words and speak them he created finger signs and mouth movements. Bonet's system of signs and alphabet influences signed languages, such as Spanish, French and American Sign Language.
140 years later, in France, Charles-Michel de l'Epee, founded the first public school for the deaf in 1760. Epee was a wealthy religious man and lawyer. By chance, passing through the slums of Paris he noticed two poor deaf sisters using hand signing. This inspired Epee to teach and to minister to the deaf with his own money.
Epee invented 'the art of restoring the deaf and speechless to society and religion'. At his Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets a Paris, Epee proposed, "the education of deaf mutes must teach them through the eye what other people acquire through the ear". L'Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris is now the school's name...