in fact, a general incapacity of the whole body and senses. It is incorrect to designate such persons as deaf and feeble-minded or deaf and idiotic, because in many cases their organs of hearing are as perfect as are other organs of their body, and they are no more deaf than blind, though they may pay no attention to what they hear any more than to what they see. They are simply weak in intellect, and this is shown by the disuse of any and all of their senses; hence it is incorrect to classify them according to one, and one only, of the evidences of this mental weakness.
Extent of Deafness.—The following table shows the number of deaf and dumb persons in the United Kingdom at successive censuses:—
|Year.||Number of Deaf and Dumb Persons.|
From this we find that the proportion of deaf and dumb to the population has been as follows:—
|Year.||Proportion of Deaf and Dumb to the Population.|
|1851||1 in 1550||1 in 1739||1 in 1340||1 in 1264|
|1861||1 in 1430||1 in 1639||1 in 1310||1 in 1025|
|1871||1 in 1642||1 in 1972||1 in 1610||1 in 974|
|1881||1 in 1694||1 in 1953||1 in 1745||1 in 1008|
|1891||1 in 1814||1 in 2040||1 in 1893||1 in 1053|
|1901||1 in 1897||1 in 2132||1 in 1694||1 in 1122|
There has, therefore, been on the whole a steady decrease of those described as “deaf and dumb” in proportion to the population in Great Britain and Ireland. But in the census for 1901, in addition to the 15,246 returned as “deaf and dumb” in England and Wales, 18,507 were entered as being “deaf,” 2433 of whom were described as having been “deaf from childhood.”
Mr B. H. Payne, the principal of the Royal Cambrian Institution, Swansea, makes the following remarks upon these figures:—
“The natural conclusion, of course, is that there has been a large increase, relative as well as absolute, of the class in which we are interested, which we call the deaf, and which includes the deaf and dumb. Indeed, the number, large as it is, cannot be considered as complete, for the schedules did not require persons who were only deaf to state their infirmity, and, though many did so, it may be presumed that more did not.
“On the other hand, circumstances exist which may reasonably be held to modify the conclusion that there has been a large relative increase of the deaf. The spread of education, the development of local government, and an improved system of registration, may have had the effect of procuring fuller enumeration and more appropriate classification than heretofore, while 1368 persons described simply as dumb, and who therefore probably belong, not to the deaf, but to the feeble-minded and aphasic classes, are included in the ‘deaf and dumb’ total. It is also to be noted that some of those who described themselves as ‘deaf’ though not born so may have been educated in the ordinary way before they lost their hearing, and are therefore outside the sphere of the operation of schools for the deaf.
“In connexion with the census of 1891, it has been remarked in the report of the institution that no provision was made in the schedules for distinguishing the congenital from the non-congenital deaf, and that it was desirable to draw such a distinction. To ascertain the relative increase or decrease of one or the other section of the class would contribute to our knowledge of the incidence of known causes of deafness or to the confirmation or discovery of other causes, and so far indicate the appropriate measures of prevention, while such an inquiry as that recommended has, besides, a certain bearing upon educational views.
“The exact number of ‘deaf and dumb’ and ‘deaf’ children who are of school age cannot be ascertained from the census tables, which give the numbers in quinquennial age-groups, while the school age is seven to sixteen. It is a pity that in this respect the functions of the census department are not co-ordinated with those of the Board of Education.”
Dr John Hitz, the superintendent of the Volta Bureau for the Increase of Knowledge Relating to the Deaf, Washington, D.C., U.S.A., gives the number of schools for deaf children, and pupils, in different countries in 1900 as follows:—
|Russia, Finland, Livonia||34||118||1719|