Deaf-Mutism


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Deaf-Mutism

 

congenital or early childhood deafness and the absence of speech caused by it. A child with normal hearing masters speech by imitating the speech of those around him on the basis of his auditory perception of it. If a child is born deaf or is deprived of hearing in his prespeech period (up to the age of one year), independent mastery of speech becomes impossible. Often even with later emergence of deafness (at the age two to three and sometimes even four to five) speech that has already developed but is insufficiently consolidated is lost, unless timely measures are taken to preserve and develop it. No changes that would hinder the formation of speech sound take place in the speech apparatus of deaf-mutes. Treatment of deaf-mutism is not very effective. Most effective are measures directed toward preventing and removing the causes of congenital deafness and deafness arising in early childhood. In the USSR widely instituted prophylactic measures have significantly lowered the number of deaf-mutes, which in prerevolutionary Russia had reached 0.1 percent of the general population.

The consequences of deaf-mutism are overcome by special training and education. Deaf-mutes who are not taught verbal speech communicate by mimicry and gestures. However, mimical-gestural speech is extremely limited and cannot completely replace verbal speech. Therefore, the most important means of compensating for deaf-mutism is the formation of ordinary verbal speech in deaf-mutes in oral and written form. In tsarist Russia the education of deaf-mutes was the business of private enterprise and philanthropy. There were only a few special schools in the entire country, in which only 6-7 percent of deaf-mute children were taught. In the USSR the law of universal compulsory education also extends to deaf-mute children. A network of schools and preschool institutions has been established, and it is part of the general system of national education. Deaf-mutes receive general education in their schools, within the scope of the eight-year school. The formation of verbal speech in deaf-mute children has a special place in the system of deaf-mute education. An essential part of this is the development of distinct pronunication. In this process visual, tactile-vibrational, and kinesthetic perceptions are used, as well as the small vestiges of hearing in many deaf-mutes. Through special education the secondary defect (muteness) of deaf-mute children is overcome, and the child, remaining deaf, gradually gains speech and is no longer mute. (In connection with this, the name of schools for deaf-mutes has been changed to schools for the deaf.) In addition to general education, students in schools for the deaf receive occupational and labor training. Graduates may continue their education in technicums, or while they are working in industry, they may complete their intermediate education in correspondence or evening schools and enter institutions of higher learning. In the USSR deaf-mutes enjoy all civil rights on an equal basis with persons who can hear. Societies for the deaf are in operation in all Soviet republics.

REFERENCES

D’iachkov, A. I. Vospitanie i obuchenie glukhonemykh detei. Moscow, 1957.
Neiman, L. V. Slukhovaia funktsiia u tugoukhikh i glukhonemykh detei. Moscow, 1961.
Rau, F. F., L. V. Neiman, and V. I. Bel’tiukov. Ispol’zovanie i razvitie slukhovogo vospriiatiia u glukhonemykh i tugoukhikh uchashchikhsia. Moscow, 1961.

L. V. NEIMAN