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Google dedicates doodle to ‘Father of Deaf’ on his 306th Birthday

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Charles-Michel de l’Épée a philanthropic educator, who founded the first public high school for deaf people in France in the 18th century. On November 24, Google is celebrating his 306th birthday and dedicated its doodle to Charles Michel de l’Épée.

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Charles Michel dedicated his entire life developing the world’s first sign alphabet for the hearing impaired people in France. Due to his efforts towards deaf people he was popularly known as “Father of the Deaf”. Epee is also credited with creating a systematic method of teaching the hearing-impaired.

On the occasion of his 306th birthday, Google is using animated doodle to dispel the misconception that people with impaired hearing were incapable of learning. Charles Michel was Born in Versailles in 1712  and was the son of an architect who studied theology and law before focusing on charity work in Paris.

Charles Michel de l'Épée

He met two young sisters who were deaf and used to live in the slums of Paris and communicated by using sign language. Taking inspiration from them, he developed a visual method that became the blueprint for the teaching of the deaf and that changed countless lives at a time when many deaf people were discriminated against.

He wrote, “Every deaf-mute sent to us already has a language.” Adding on he further wrote, “He is thoroughly in the habit of using it, and understands others who do. With it he expresses his needs, desires, doubts, pains, and so on, and makes no mistakes when others express themselves likewise.”

Charles Michel de l'Épée

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.”

Notably, he refused assistance from the wealthy for fear of being charged with mercenary motives.

He recognized the importance of sign language as the hearing impaired people must learn “through the eye what other people acquire through the ear”.

Finally, the French National Assembly eventually recognized Charles Michel 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.

Also read: Google doodle celebrates 131st Birthday of world’s first female engineer, Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu

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