Alexander Graham Bell - Homepage

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					     Contact: Dr. Karen Dilka
    Eastern Kentucky University

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Alexander Graham Bell

     Advocate for the Deaf
By: Stacy Raff & Cindy Patterson
Many forces helped shape the genius of
Alexander Graham Bell. As the son and
grandson of speech experts, he had a
unique knowledge of the possibilities
of sound. As the son of a deaf mother,
he had a true appreciation of the
effort required to live in a hearing
world. In turn, these factors led to
mr. Bell’s humanitarian acts in regard
to the deaf and hard of hearing.
    Bell’s Family Background
n   His father, Alexander Melville Bell, had spent many years
    teaching elocution (showing people how to speak correctly),
    and had studied the mechanics of speech: how we use our
    larynx, mouth, tongue and lips to form sounds. He was the
    inventor of "Visible Speech," a code of symbols which
    indicated the position and action of the throat, tongue and
    lips in uttering various sounds.
n    His mother, Eliza Grace Symonds was hard of hearing, but
    could use a speaking tube to hear some sounds. Eliza was a
    powerful example for Bell. Despite her hearing loss, Eliza
    was her son's principal teacher.
n   1847 March 3 Alexander Bell is born to
    Alexander Melville and Eliza Symonds Bell in
    Edinburgh, Scotland.
n   1864 April      Alexander Melville Bell develops
    Visible Speech, a kind of universal alphabet that
    reduces all sounds made by the human voice into
    a series of symbols.
n   1868 May 21 Bell begins teaching speech to the
    deaf at Susanna Hull's school for deaf children in
    London. Bell attends University College in
n   1871 April      Moving to Boston, Bell begins
    teaching at the Boston School for Deaf Mutes.
n   1872 March      Bell teaches at the Clarke
    School for the Deaf in Boston and at the
    American Asylum for the Deaf in Hartford,
n   1872 April 8 Bell meets Boston attorney
    Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who will become
    one of his financial backers and his father-in-
n   1872 Fall       Bell opens his School of Vocal
    Physiology in Boston and starts experimenting
    with the multiple telegraph.
n   1873            Boston University appoints Bell
    Professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at
    its School of Oratory. Mabel Hubbard, his
    future wife, becomes one of his private pupils.
n   1874 Spring Bell conducts acoustics
    experiments at the Massachusetts Institute of
    Technology. He and Clarence Blake, a Boston
    ear specialist, begin experimenting with the
    mechanics of the human ear and the
    phonautograph, a device that could translate
    sound vibrations into visible tracings.
    Summer In Brantford, Ontario, Bell first
    conceives of the idea for the telephone.
n   1876 July 11 Mabel Hubbard and Bell are
n   1883             At Scott Circle in Washington,
    D.C., Bell starts a day school for deaf
n   1886             Bell establishes the Volta
    Bureau as a center for studies on the deaf.
n   1887 February Bell meets six-year-old blind
    and deaf Helen Keller in Washington, D.C.
    He helps her family find a private teacher by
    recommending that her father seek help from
    Michael Anagnos, director of the Perkins
    Institution for the Blind.
n   1890 August Bell and his supporters form
    the American Association to Promote the
    Teaching of Speech to the Deaf.
n   1922 August 2 Bell dies and is buried at
    Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia.
Bell was interested in teaching the deaf his
entire life. He was the leading supporter of
the oral philosophy, strongly believing that
the deaf should be taught to speak. His
contributions greatly influenced the way
deaf children are taught both in his time and
today. The oral system is still promoted by
the Alexander Graham Bell Association for
the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This
organization, founded in 1890 by Bell, serves
as an information provider and support
network while continuing to spread the
ideas of its founder.
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