Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Roch-Amboise-Auguste Bébian

Born 4 August, 1789 at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe; died there 24 February, 1839. His father sent him to France, where he was committed to the care of his godfather, the Abbé Sicard, the well-known educator of the deaf and dumb. The latter put him under the direction of Abbé Jauffret then exhibiting a great interest in the education of deaf-mutes. After a brilliant course at the Lycée Charlemagne in Paris, Bébian devoted himself to the study of the system of education of the deaf and dumb. He followed the courses of instruction given by Abbé Sicard and gave special attention to Laurent Clerc, a deaf-mute who afterwards became president of an institution for the deaf and dumb at Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A. As prefect of studies in the institution for the deaf and dumb at Paris, he directed all his efforts to finding the signs best adapted, in precision and extension of meaning, to the expression of the ideas of the deaf and dumb.

Bébian published the result of his studies in his first book, "Essai sur les sourds-muets et sur le langage naturel" (1817). His principal works, under the titles "Mimographie" (1822) and "Manuel d'enseignement pratique des sourds-muets" (1822), laid down the principles used in the institution for the deaf and dumb in Paris. After leaving this school, he published several other works, the most important being "L'éducation des sourds-muets mise a la portée des instituteurs primaires et de tous les parents". Having refused the direction of the schools for the deaf and dumb of St. Petersburg and New York, he founded a similar institution at Paris on the boulevard Montparnasse; later he became director of the school of Rouen and finally went back to Guadeloupe, where he founded a school for the negroes. He had already written, in 1819, "Eloge historique de l'abbé de l'Epée", which was awarded the prize offered by the Academy of Sciences.