The essays written for and the speeches made at the infamous 1880 Congress in Milan, Italy, were included in this book which was part of a bundle of books donated to the Deaf Museum by the Royal National Institute for the Deaf (now known as Action on Hearing Loss) Library.
What happened at the Congress?
The influential Milan Congress in 1880 decided that the oral method of educating deaf children was superior to sign language. This International Congress on the Education of the Deaf, in which the majority of those attending were hearing teachers of deaf children, out of 164 attendees only one or two were deaf. Many of the people invited were known oralists so the Congress was biased and most, if not all, of the resolutions that were voted on by the delegates gave results in favour of the oral method. They had passed a resolution banning the use of sign languages in schools throughout the world. Nine of the twelve speakers gave an oralist view and only three (Edward Miner Gallaudet, the Rev. Thomas Gallaudet and Richard Elliott, a teacher from England) supported the use of sign language. The participants of the Congress then returned to their home countries, determined to eradicate both the employment of deaf teachers and the use of sign language in schools. They also sought to reduce class sizes to those that were manageable by hearing teachers and all the deaf teachers were dismissed.