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Charles-Michel de l'Epee: Google Doodle Honours 'Father of the Deaf' on His 306th Birth Anniversary

Charles-Michel de l'Épée, also known as the 'Father of the Deaf', devoted his life to developing the world's first sign alphabet for the deaf and is credited with creating a systematic method of teaching the hearing-impaired.

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Updated:November 24, 2018, 7:31 AM IST
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Charles-Michel de l'Epee: Google Doodle Honours 'Father of the Deaf' on His 306th Birth Anniversary
Educator Charles-Michel de l'Epee honoured by Google on his 306th birth anniversary
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Charles-Michel de l'Épée, also known as the 'Father of the Deaf', was honoured by Google Doodle on his 306th birth anniversary today. A philanthropic educator of 18th-century France, Michel founded the first public school for the hearing-impaired in his country.

He devoted his life to developing the world's first sign alphabet for the deaf and is credited with creating a systematic method of teaching the hearing-impaired.

Considered not capable to learn what other people did, Charles Michel changed this misconception about impaired people. The teaching methods and his understanding of the hearing-impaired was due to two young sisters, who lived in the slums of Paris. Ensuring that the deaf learn what visually-impaired people do, he started communicating with them using sign language. This inspired him to change countless lives at a time when many hearing-impaired people were discriminated against.

Born in Versailles on November 24, 1712, Épée was the son of a theologian and theological research architect. He later devoted his life to the service of the poor. He met the two deaf sisters during his charity work in Paris.

The school of De l'Epee (Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets à Paris) was conducted entirely at his own expense. "It is not to the rich," he said "that I have devoted myself; it is to the poor only. Had it not been for these, I should have never attempted the education of deaf and dumb." He refused aid from the wealthy for fear of being charged with mercenary motives.

He recognised the importance of sign language as the deaf must learn "through the eye what other people acquire through the ear". Eventually, the French National Assembly eventually recognized him as a "Benefactor of Humanity" and asserted the rights of deaf people under France's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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