Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/383

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371
SPEECH FOR DEAF CHILDREN.

us so much happiness, and which we find early in life carries messages to the brain in behalf of some sense lying dormant, must concentrate its gaze upon a small space, the human face. The range being limited, more detail is noticeable; attention is not diverted by general movements embodying arbitrary or natural signs, to the hand and arm, or to the whole figure. There is an opportunity to increase constantly an appreciation of shades of expression just as a discernment of the nice distinctions of well-chosen words is attained. The result is, the deaf child follows in the face of a reader the details of a story with all the relish the hearing would in listening. There is no staring, simply a quiet, steady gaze. The repeating of the words seen, proves the close connection between the eye and the speech-center.

There is no doubt many children born deaf have hearing sufficient if educated to enable them to receive correct impressions through that sense, and to be in a condition similar to that of so-called hard-of-hearing persons. One reason they do not use the ear to better advantage is that they are ignorant of linguistic sounds. The adult losing his hearing power has the advantages of a full vocabulary, a knowledge of the structure of the language, and a mastery of its idioms, combined with an ability to hold conversation in his own hands; he can learn speech-reading, which with him is a high degree of expression-reading, and he need not change his vocation or pleasures, save those requiring a somewhat sensitive condition of the auditory sense. It would be far otherwise if he had to secure language with the small amount of hearing he now possesses. Many children are deaf because of a slow perception of sound, without reference to any functional disability. They must be taught to listen, for without the strain of attention the loudest noises may be unheeded. The work of opening to them an appreciation of the world of sound is called development of hearing, and is thus designated to distinguish it from improvement of hearing; the latter is an assistance to deafness arising from a diseased condition of the ears, and is rendered by various mechanical aids, such as noise, hearing tubes, and trumpets. In developing hearing, progress depends upon using the auditory sense alone. When the vision and hearing work together in aural instruction, there is an unnatural dependence of the latter upon the former, and no regard paid to the hereditary tendencies to action between ear and speech-center. The result is that the pupil seldom understands a new word unless he first sees it upon the lips. After instruction which compelled the hearing to rely upon its single efforts the various sounds of the language are appreciated immediately in any order given; as all words are but rearrangements of the same elements, new ones can be repeated as readily as familiar ones. The strain of attention being