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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/382

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370
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

deaf; He knows no reason why words should he arranged in certain orders. Day by day the same forms are repeated until, brought into play on every appropriate occasion, they are used spontaneously. Fortunately, the scholar does not know what is before him. Ignorant of the amount he is to learn, he absorbs his daily allowance of language, his ideas expanding, and his mind unfolding. All is delightful to him. It is the teacher who feels the great work to accomplish. Various studies can be taken up by the pupil after he has secured some hold of language and his education can be made identical with that of a hearing student. There are no limits for him but his inclinations or circumstances.

A large number of the deaf were not born in their present condition; statistics prove that many have lost hearing by disease or accident after learning to speak in the natural way. If this should occur when two or three years of age, or when even somewhat older, and no educative means are employed immediately, the speech becomes impaired in a short time. Should the child be ten or more years old, he retains his articulation fairly well, but in common with those younger, the voice rapidly acquires unpleasant characteristics. Such children in former years were silenced in the institutions. Their knowledge of speech and remembrance of forms of expression in language develop into a great advantage over those of the same age who never heard. The difference is inestimable. There is far less chance for misunderstandings, less mystery about ordinary matters; the mind is older. The impaired speech may be corrected, the voice brought under control, and instruction in speech-reading imparted at once.

Formerly the ability to understand what is said by movements in the face was called lip-reading; the term is unsatisfactory, for more than the lips must be watched. Of late this accomplishment has received the name of speech-reading. It is an ability to follow the varying expressions in the face as quickly as they appear, and thus to convey thought through the medium of the eye instead of by the hearing. Persons reading the above will look up at some one present, and after watching the face awhile will wonder how it is possible for any being to follow those movements and understand speech thereby. They attempt too much at once. Preliminary steps must be taken. The little child just beginning to read can not scan a page quickly. Success in speech-reading means an education of the eye secured by practice. Its attainment by the child born deaf grows with his knowledge of spoken language; the child who has lost hearing after having learned speech naturally, advances in ability to understand others in proportion to his dependence upon that method of communication. The wonderful organ which gives