Carol and Ruggles

CAROL SCHNEIDER (about the writer and writing of Movements)

“About sixteen years ago, I went back to college. One of my classes was American History and it was taught by this very …well I thought he was at first…very progressive professor.  The syllabus was “The People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn which tells our major American stories from an untraditional point of view…from the point of view of the masses and often the underdogs.

So in this class, we were asked to choose topics which we would research extensively and then write a term paper on.   We had to first submit a paragraph on this topic for the professor’s approval.

During that same time period, I was working at this ASL school and studying sign language there and I was utterly taken by my Deaf teachers, the culture and completely blown away by the history I was learning about there.

So I decided I wanted to write my term paper on the bringing of Deaf education to America by Laurent Clerc and Thomas Gallaudet, the rise and expansion of their work across America, the subsequent dismantling of it by Alexander Graham Bell, the war on Sign language that ensued and the legislation against Deaf marriage that was proposed by Eugenicists.   Of course this was going to be an overview because it’s a vast topic.   I was very excited because none of this was in any of the American History texts I’d ever seen.

So I handed my proposal in and received it back with, Not applicable to American History!’, scrawled across it.

Essentially, my experience has been that most hearing folks are completely ignorant about this incredible and sometimes shocking piece of American and Civil Rights history.

I wrote the paper despite the teacher’s dismissal and got an A.  But I became obsessed by this story and over the next fourteen years I became a Laurent Clerc/Thomas Gallaudet stalker and I traveled to various libraries and archives  around the country studying them.   They were two remarkable men, revolutionaries really; especially Laurent Clerc whose instincts  and methods regarding the  teacher’s approach to his student were perhaps even more advanced than our modern systems.”