ALLEN, B.C. (1905) Assam District Gazetteers, vol. IX, Naga Hills and Manipur, Calcutta.

p. 37 shows the incidence of deaf-mutism in the Naga Hills as 8 times higher than the average for India. A Deputy Commissioner commented: "in almost every village, certainly amongst the Angamis, there are deaf mutes. In some of the smaller villages every second person is either deaf or dumb, or insane. This I know from my personal experience." (The problem came to be attributed to the serious and ongoing iodine deficiencies in the northern hills). See HUTTON below for signing in this area. Also SKINNER, and Bengal District Gazetteers.


AMMAL, Devanesam (1909) [Extract from a letter written in 1909 by D. Ammal, headmistress of the school founded by Florence Swainson at Palamcottah. Quoted on p. 5 of M. Saumarez SMITH (1915), see reference below.]

"When I first came, there were only six girls and no boys. I shall never forget my first week's adventures in teaching the deaf - the whole week we used to teach them one Scripture lesson, going over and over it, and Miss Swainson examined it on Sundays. I tried to teach about the Creation the first week. Had we understood the children as we do now, we should never have taken that lesson first. I tried my best to explain it to them in signs. On Sunday, when they came before Miss Swainson, they were not able to say anything, and I was so ashamed and discouraged, and thought I should never be able to teach them, but God has wonderfully made me fit for my work. The children were so naughty and tiresome; they would not look at us, but shut their eyes if we talked to them. Imagine how we could deal with them, if they would not look when they could not hear! We could not punish them, for they would run away for any little thing, and we had to run after them. Now we see a great change in them."


AUNG, Maung Htin (1976) Folk Tales of Burma. [Delhi]: Sterling. 112 pp.

pp. 62-64, "The Four Deaf Men" tells of a herdsman, a toddy-climber, a farmer, and a village headman, all being deaf. They misunderstand each other's gestures, leading to a series of incidents. (cf. Ceylonese story of 4 deaf persons, in PARKER, 1910-1914, below; and DUBOIS.)


BANERJEE, H.C. (1928) The sign language of deaf-mutes. Indian J. Psychology 3: 69-87.

Probably the earliest Indian publication specifically on this topic, based on studies in three Bengal schools for deaf children, at Dacca, Barisal and Calcutta. ("In all these schools the teachers have discouraged the growth of the sign language, which in spite of this official disapproval, has grown and flourished." p.70) The appendix (pp. 76-87) compares sign vocabularies in use at the three different schools, which were verified with some care. Banerjee cited various language theories in connection with signing, but held a more positive view of it than was common among hearing professionals in the 1920s. "The gesture language of primitive man never reached the variety and expressiveness of the modern gesture language of deaf mutes; for before his thought-processes ever reached such complexity, he had definitely cast his vote for a language of cries and sounds. In the gesture language of deaf mutes we see the higher stages of gesture speech which man might have attained had he made the other choice, and preferred to speak with his hands instead of with his mouth."


BANERJI, Jamini Nath (1898) India. International Reports of Schools for the Deaf, 18-19. Washington City: Volta Bureau.

Very brief report on schools at Calcutta and Bombay, with one of the earliest general descriptions, by a concerned observer, of the plight of (urban) deaf Indians, describing e.g. deeply held beliefs such as that deaf people were incapable of being educated and that the attempt to do so was "inviting the vengeance of God". Further (p. 18):

"In a country like India, where begging is not considered a crime, and where social sentiment encourages almsgiving, it is but natural that a very large number of the deaf should resort to this abominable mode of livelihood. They have therefore no standing in society, are looked down upon and despised, treated more like lower animals than human beings, are actually hooted at in imitation of the ugly sounds they utter, and have even been pelted with stones by gangs of roguish children. No evidence is anywhere to be found of their having received any education whatever during Hindoo or Mahomedan times. Even at the present time both Hindoo and Mahomedan law deprives them of the right of inheritance."


BANERJI, J.N. (1904) [Notices of Publications] Majumdar, Mohini Mohan, 1904, Muk-shiksha (Education of the Deaf and Dumb) Calcutta. 12mo. pp.130. American Annals of the Deaf 59 (4; Sept) 390-391.

Appreciative notice by Mr Banerji of the first Bengali manual on education for deaf people, produced by one of his teachers at the Calcutta school, Mr Majumdar. (According to K. BHATTACHARYYA, q.v., p.28, the book gives "a short sketch on the history of the education of the deaf-mutes in the West and also in India", and also describes "different Western Methods of teaching the deaf-mute".)


BANERJI, J.N. (1903) Education of the deaf and dumb in India. The Messenger (Belfast) new series, VI: (No. 4, July-Aug) 65.

Brief sketches of the origins of the five current schools or classes for deaf pupils: at Bombay, Calcutta, Palamcottah, Mysore, and at Dhamtari (Central India) where among 600 famine orphans being cared for by American Mennonites, there were a dozen deaf children being taught by Jacob Burkhard.


BANERJI, J.N. (1904) Mr. T. Venkata Rao, Mysore. The Messenger (Belfast) new series, VII: (No. 4, July-Aug) 57-58.

Describes the start of the deaf and blind school at Mysore, from where the very capable young man Venkata Rao had been sent to Mr Banerji's school at Calcutta, for training. At Mysore, pupils paid no fees. The school paid them a monthly scholarship for their attendance, the sum varying according to their progress.


BANERJI, J.N. (1907) Calcutta School for the Deaf. The Messenger (Belfast) new series VIII (No. 10, Sept-Oct) 173-174.

Mr Banerji reported on his school, where 52 pupils were studying. He also listed the occupations of some past pupils. He noted that "The School is conducted on oral principles", but there was a class of eight boys who did not succeed with this approach, so "This class is taught on the manual spelling method," using a single-handed manual alphabet for Bengali. He claimed that "This is the first time in the history of India that a manual alphabet has been invented for any Indian language." He also admitted that "It would not be correct to say that signs are not used in this class. Indeed they are far too freely used..." Banerji found it "interesting to see how the boys themselves have developed their gestures into something like a language. It certainly speaks very highly for their inventive faculty." He saw that the present 'language' was still fairly iconic, and had no doubt that as the school grew bigger, "arbitrary signs will be more rapidly invented, and we shall have an Indian sign language, which will suffice for the ordinary purposes of expressing the ideas of the Deaf and Dumb of India." Writing of the boys' love of cricket and football, Banerji noted their special joy in defeating hearing opponents, and the boost to the deaf lad's self-confidence "when he can fight on equal terms with hearing youths of his age."


BANERJI, Sailendra Nath (1949) Sixty years with the Deaf in India. The Deaf in India I (1) 3-9. [Article continues, serialised in subsequent issues, I (2), 3-18; I (3), 26-27.]

S.N. Banerji was the son of Jamini Nath Banerji, one of the founders of the Calcutta school in 1893. His detailed historical account of the start of formal special education is very useful as such, though deaf children and adults play almost no part in it. While naturally proud of his father's efforts independent of government assistance, Banerji was even-handed in his account of the other pioneers at Bombay and Palamcottah. He suggested that the first teachers of the deaf in India "started paupers, toiled half-starved and died unnoticed!" This was largely untrue, but it follows a familiar pattern of the "myth of the heroic founders". He described thus the start of the Calcutta school:

I (1) 4-6, "Girindra Nath Bhose ... was the unfortunate father of four deaf-mute children and had been in correspondence with England to bring out a teacher from that country. He was a scion of the Pataldanga Bhose family of Calcutta ... Fortunately, however, the agreement [to bring a teacher from England] finally fell through to give room to the native enterprise ... There was another man, Srinath Sinha, who had a deaf-mute brother whom he was anxious to help. Providence brought these two men together. Srinath Sinha was appointed by Girindranath as a tutor of his children. Literatures on the education of the deaf which had been already brought from England, were given to Srinath." After J.N. Banerji's return in October 1896 from studies in Britain and America, "The oral method was introduced." (p. 8)

The Calcutta school trained staff who went on and started many of the other deaf schools in Bengal. However, "The Schools at Chittagong and Rajshahi were the results of the efforts made by Bholanath Ghattak, an ex-student of the Calcutta School. It was highly commendable that a deaf person should take an initiative in this direction. He died very prematurely in 1936." (I (2) p. 6).


BANERJI, S.N. (1950) Language for the deaf. Indian J. Psychology 25: 133-140.

Although Banerji begins with "The sign language cannot be the accepted vehicle of thought for the education of the deaf" (p. 133), the paper ranges across a variety of experience and language theory, discussing Indian practices as well as European and American. The Calcutta school founded by his father was known as a beacon of Oralism, yet Banerji notes (p. 137) that "The late Mohinimohan Majumdar" [a long-time senior teacher of that school] "was a brilliant exponent of the sign language." Banerji found that "We often confound between natural signs and conventional signs though we know the difference quite well. The conventional sign language is a complex conventional form of expression developed from natural sign roots. The conventional signs, however, have deviated so much from the roots that the links are more often missed. We have no conventional sign language in India in the same sense they have in America." (p. 137)


BAPAT, Ram (1995) Pandita Ramabhai: faith and reason in the shadow of East and West, in: V. DALMIA & H. Von STIETENCRON (eds) Representing Hinduism, pp. 224-252, New Delhi: Sage.

p. 241. Suggests that when the learned Hindu/Christian Pandita Ramabhai (1858-1922) toured America in the 1880s, her application to a medical school to train as a doctor was rejected because of her hearing impairment. Instead she enrolled in a Kindergarten Training School for one year. (Cf. MÜLLER, below, who knew Ramabai well and stated that the inability to follow medical studies arose in England.)


BAUMANN, E. (1886) Deaf and dumb Ellen and how she became a Christian. Indian Female Evangelist 8: 241-244.

Tells of the difficult task of educating a deaf Indian child who was found abandoned in the wild and brought home by Miss Baumann's father, a missionary at Chupra. "There is no deaf and dumb language on the fingers in India, and so I had to learn to speak by gesture to Ellen, the name she afterwards received at baptism." There were three other deaf children among the orphans under Miss Baumann's care. Of these she said that they were "besides being thus afflicted, idiots"; and at first she expected no more of Ellen. "Her hair stood out like a bush all round her head, her eyes were bright and restless, and reminded one of a caged animal trying to escape from a snare." However, after considerable struggles Ellen became more amenable to discipline and school work, and Miss Baumann gradually became aware of her pupil's intelligence and depth of understanding. "I often had very interesting times with this poor dumb child, and tried to find out if she had any thoughts about religion, and to train her as best I might. One day I asked her what she understood about our service in church. Here I must remind my readers that though no spoken conversation passed between us, and only a language of gestures, I call it speaking, asking, saying etc, for the sake of brevity." (Even allowing for some wishful thinking in this missionary's report, it seems that Ellen gave evidence of understanding some basic aspects of religious belief and practice.) "Her manner and conduct greatly altered at this time, and the other girls, who of course saw much more of her than I did, all testified to her increasing gentleness and unselfishness. She was very intelligent, and would ask many questions concerning different subjects which I loved to reply to, and we became close friends."


Bengal District Gazetteers. Champaran. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat. 1907.

pp. 60-61. In Champaran, "Deaf-mutism is more prevalent than in any other district in Bengal, the proportion of deaf-mutes returned in the census of 1901 being 275 per 100,000 males and 173 per 100,000 females. ... [Comments on goitrous areas follow]. Many deaf-mutes are also cretins, and the number of the latter is remarkable. It is a common sight to see them going out with village children to tend cattle, and sometimes deaf-mute idiots tend cattle alone." (Report by L.S.S. O'Malley). See also ALLEN, MILES, SKINNER, and SRINIVASAN et al.


BHATTACHARYYA, Kalidas (1939) A statistical survey of education of the infirm in India, J. Department of Letters, University of Calcutta 31: 1-40.

pp. 21-34 concern educational provisions for deaf pupils, based on a detailed mailed survey questionnaire circulated in 1933. Bhattacharyya, who had studied at Gallaudet College, and was founder and principal of the Delhi Deaf and Dumb School, noted that "The schools at Poona and Nunguneri (Madras) use both the Sign and Oral Methods of teaching; while the rest strictly follow Pure Oral Method, that is, teaching speech and lip-reading. The course generally covers a period varying from 6 to 8 years in all these schools. ... The medium of instruction in almost all the schools is the vernacular of the respective Province or State." (pp. 24-25)


BRODIE, Dorothy I. (1935) Education of the deaf in India. The Teacher of the Deaf 33: 169-175.

Report of a short tour of several schools by a British educationist, who was rather impressed that "excellent work was being done by an appallingly overworked staff under impossibly bad conditions" in Bombay and several other places. Typically, at Mysore and elsewhere, "the method used was an oral one, signs being discouraged and finger-spelling not taught". The viewpoint is further indicated by celebration of the achievements of a Mylapore student, who "is now able to speak English and Tamil so well that one would hardly believe Santhanaswamy was once a mute conveying his ideas by means of signs only." However, the report contains plenty of detail.


CHAPMAN, Priscilla (1839) Hindoo Female Education. London: Seeley & Burnside. xii + 175 pp.

p. 137. "In further token of the success of Mrs. Wilson's system [of educating Indian girls of normal ability], we cannot but mention Gunga, a deaf and dumb girl, who, under peculiar circumstances, was admitted to the institution [the Female Orphan Refuge at Calcutta], and has been an inmate for several years. Her very intelligent countenance has acquired a happy expression, although her natural temper is strong and obstinate, and exceedingly sensitive; she is very cheerful and a great favourite with her playmates: they have taught her to converse with her fingers; and she seems not merely to watch intelligently every thing that is passing, but really to have a very clear apprehension of persons and things, retaining a perfect recognition of individuals. ... In worsted work she particularly excels, and several pieces done by her, have been sent to England."


CHATURVEDI, Saligram (1949) The organisation of education in the United Provinces (Dominion of India) with special reference to deaf education. Unpublished M.Ed. thesis, University of Manchester. [approx. vi + 350 pp]

Chaturvedi was sent by the United Provinces Government to study deaf education in England. The UP had then only two schools for the deaf, both begun in 1938, with total enrolment of 58 pupils in 1946. In his thesis, considerations of deaf education are confined to Chapter IV, pp. 226ff. Chaturvedi considered that the "apathetic attitude towards the education of the deaf" reflected both a mistaken policy of prioritising the education of able-bodied children, and a belief in the philosophy of Karma (pp. 227-228).


CROOKE, William (1919) Secret messages and symbols used in India. J. Bihar and Orissa Research Society 5 (iv) 451-462.

Gives many examples, with references, of a variety of alternative methods of communication, e.g. secret jargons or slang, letter sticks, circulation of symbolic twig, arrow, or knotted string, drum beating, direction indicators on paths and trails, covert signals of availability by young women, 'dumb barter', and so on. None of these is a 'sign language' as currently understood, but they do indicate the rich context of South Asian semiotics.


CROSSETT, J. (1887) School Items. Bombay Institution. American Annals of the Deaf 32 (2): 124-125.

"The large lettered sign, "Institution for Deaf-Mutes," in a great half-circle over a gate-way, caught our eyes as we walked down Grant Road in Bombay. ... [Several paragraphs follow, on activities witnessed in two classes of deaf boys.] Again on a Sunday afternoon I called, and this time saw the European superintendent [T.A. Walsh]. He had been engaged in deaf-mute instruction for over twenty years in Ireland and Belgium. He arrived in Bombay in October, 1884, and has been in charge since. ... The head of the Institution had formerly used the manual system, but upon coming to India adopted the oral."


DESAI, Pranshauker L. (1926) School for the Deaf, Ahmedabad, Bombay, India. Volta Review 28: 356-357.

Brief report on the work of this school, begun in 1908.


DUBOIS, Abbé Jean Antoine [c. 1806] Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, 3rd edition, transl. & ed. Henry K. Beauchamp (1906). Oxford: Clarendon; reprinted 1992, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. xxxiv + 741 pp.

pp. 450-453. Another version of the Tale of Four Deaf Men, in this case a shepherd, a watchman, a horse thief and an elderly Brahmin, who misunderstand one another in successive ridiculous incidents. (See AUNG, above, PARKER, below.)


DYER, Helen S. (1906) Pandita Ramabai: the story of her life. London: Morgan & Scott.

p. 67, quotes a report from 1887 by Miss Minnie F. Abrams, Methodist Episcopal Church, who worked at 'Mukti', Khedgaon, with Pandita Ramabai:

"When Pandita was bringing widows from the Central Provinces [to her refuge and school at Poona] a deaf and dumb woman insisted on coming. Pandita refused to bring her. She came and sat in the train. They made her understand that she could not learn in school, hence could not be taken. She told them by signs that she would grind, cook, wash clothes, scrub, etc. She literally refused to leave the train, and at the last minute Pandita laughed and bought her a ticket. She has been true to her word and works cheerfully."

"She always preserves a reverent attitude during worship. When the women were asking Pandita for baptism, she persisted in having her name written. Pandita tried to put her aside, but again she was persistent. One day she arose to testify. We all felt God's presence as she stood in silent eloquence before God. [#] The girls said aloud, 'Mookkie knows God as well as we.' On two occasions she tried to speak and made a low sound. She received baptism with the others."

In 1899 Helen Dyer also met 'Mookkie' (one of the traditional names for a deaf person) in the dairy of the community: "The deaf and dumb woman was in charge of the churning department, and eagerly displayed to us the superiority of the new churns over the previously employed native methods."

SAWDAY, see below, quotes the account, above, of the deaf widow who insisted on being included. At [#] Sawday's quotation included the words "The girls all think God will teach her to speak."

See also MÜLLER, and BAPAT, on Ramabai's own hearing impairment).


Editorial (1895) The deaf mutes in India. The Indian Magazine and Review, August 1895, pp. 436-38. (Quoting largely an article by Ernest J.D. Abraham, in The British Deaf-Mute, May 1895).

p. 436. "It was not until April 1893 that this [Calcutta Deaf and Dumb] School was started, and in the course of the first ten months of its existence it grew from a modest and obscure Institution into an important and rapidly-growing philanthropic and educational establishment. ... The teaching staff consists of Babus Jamini Nath Banerji (Principal), Srinath Sinha, and Mohini Mohan Mazumdar, all Hindu gentlemen. That the school is entirely under native management, and that deaf-mute children of Hindu, Mahomedan, European, and Eurasian parents are admitted to the Institution should give India's well-wishers great cause to rejoice."


Editorial (1920) Education of the deaf in Burma. The Teacher of the Deaf 18: 188.

Brief report from The Rangoon Gazette, of a meeting at Government House between Miss Chapman, British officials and dignitaries, at which official endorsement was given to Miss Chapman's scheme for educating deaf children. "Miss Chapman described how it is possible to educate the deaf child by the oral method." (Miss M.F. Chapman had earlier founded the first school for deaf children in Ceylon; see SMITH, 1915, and WELIKALA, 1962, below). Further briefs on the establishment of the School for the Deaf, Rangoon, along with specialist teacher training, appear in 1924 and 1926, in The Teacher of the Deaf 22: 117, and 24: 168.


Editorial (1931) India. School for the Deaf, Palamcottah. The Teacher of the Deaf 29: 133.

Short item by an anonymous visitor, unusual in that it is entirely about extra-curricular activities of the deaf children and young people. The Guides and Bluebirds (=Brownies) were active, and "the Patrol Leaders have shewn powers of leadership and organization hardly to be expected from deaf girls. ... These deaf girls display much keenness in all branches of Guiding, tracking, bird lore, etc. ... the Rangers are beginning Child Nursing and First Aid. They hope to run a small dispensary to which the poor people from the neighbouring village can come for simple treatment."


[GHOSH, B.N.] (1933) Leper and other beggars in Calcutta. Leprosy in India 5: 154-160.

[The author of this paper is not given, but presumably was Dr Ghosh, author of the continuation survey report below.] Among 1,438 beggars found in the first phase of a survey by physicians and assistants during fieldwork in 1932, there were 224 classified as Lepers; 141 Blind; 104 with Lathyrism; 30 Insane; 5 Deaf and Dumb; 108 with other diseases; 475 without apparent disease or disability, being temporary beggars due to unemployment; 351 without any disease or disability, being permanent or professional beggars. See next.


GHOSH, B.N. (1934) Beggar survey in Calcutta in 1933. Leprosy in India 6: 145-147.

Among 1,573 beggars found in the continuation survey in 1933, there were 152 'Lepers'; 124 'Blind'; 59 'Lathyrism'; 19 'Insane'; 8 'Deaf and Dumb'; 48 'other diseases'; 694 'without apparent disease or disability, temporary beggars due to unemployment'; 469 'without any disease or disability, permanent or professional beggars'. Even with the inaccuracies inevitable in such a survey and the difficulties of interpreting data, these results suggest that the adult deaf in the Calcutta region of the 1930s usually found ways to keep themselves alive without begging.


GUNASEKERA, Denis D. (1959) Some employment problems of the deaf. Ceylon J. Social Work 4 (1) 31-37.


HODSON, T.C. (1922) The Primitive Culture of India. Lectures delivered in 1922 at The School of Oriental Studies (Univ. of London). London: Royal Asiatic Society.

pp. 60-61, refers briefly to secret languages in tribal India, then to "the use of sign or manual language", quoting materials on the Lushei Kuki Clans, and the Angami Nagas. (The passage on the Angami Nagas is from HUTTON (see below). Hodson's passage in French, on "Parler avec les mains", p. 61, though not in quotation marks, appears to be a quotation, citing "64. The Lushei Kuki Clans, p. 65." - but this does not seem to be J. Shakespear, 1912, The Lushei Kuki Clans, London: MacMillan.)


HULL, Ernest R. (1913) Bombay Mission-History with a special study of the Padroado Question. Volume II 1858-1890. Bombay: Examiner Press.

p. 309 "The Bombay Institution for Deaf-Mutes was founded by Bishop Meurin in the year 1882 by the aid of public subscriptions, the list of which includes several native princes, as well as rich Hindus, Mahommedans and Parsis. ... The Government granted a subsidy of Rs.1,200 per year and the Municipality Rs.1,800. At the time of its foundation it was the only institution of its kind in India. What with endowments and donations, it is more or less self-supporting. Originally it was started in the Fort, and [by] 1885 the institute was in full working order. ... [The pupils] go through an elaborate and ingenious training which to the outsider looks like attempting the impossible; namely, to enable them to understand what is said by watching the lips of the speaker, and even to learn how to talk themselves by imitating the lip-movements of their teacher - sometimes touching his throat, then their own, in order to know what the sound feels like."


HUTTON, John Henry (1921) The Angami Nagas, with some notes on neighbouring tribes. London: MacMillan. xv + 480 pp. + plates.

pp. 291-292, brief notes on the Angami Nagas' skilful use of a "language of signs", whether by deaf or hearing people. "As one might expect ... of men without the art of writing, the language of signs has reached a high state of development - a development no doubt fostered and maintained by the recurrent necessity of communication between members of neighbouring villages speaking dialects or languages totally incomprehensible to one another. To judge how highly developed is this power of communicating by signs, etc., it is necessary only to experience a Naga interpreter's translation of a story or a request told to him in sign language by a dumb man. ... Indeed the writer has known a dumb man make a long and detailed complaint of an assault in which nothing was missing except proper names, and even these were eventually identified by means of the dumb man's description of his assailants' dress and personal appearance." See also ALLEN (1905) above.


IBBETSON, Denzil Charles Jelf (1883) Report on the Census of the Panjab taken on the 17th of February 1881. Vol. I. Text; and Appendices C and D. Calcutta.

pp. 408-415. Ibbetson tabulated and discussed "insanity, blindness, deaf-dumbness", with some social comment. Problems in the 1868 census design (separation of 'deaf' and 'dumb') made comparisons with 1881 results uncertain. Some districts in 1881 recorded ten or twelve times as many deaf and dumb people as in other districts. The high prevalence was in hilly or submontane parts.


ILO (1960) Report to the Government of Ceylon on the Vocational Rehabilitation of the Blind and the Deaf and other Physically Handicapped Persons. ILO/TAP/Ceylon/R.16. Geneva. 65 pp.


IYER, A. Padmanabha (1938) Modern Mysore, impression of a visitor, Trivandrum: Sridhara Printing House.

pp. 78-83, report on the residential "School for Deaf and Dumb Boys" at Mysore, founded in 1902 by M. Srinivasa Rao and taken over by the government in 1927. The earliest teacher to obtain formal training was a man sent to the Calcutta Deaf & Dumb School, so it may be assumed that the teaching method was oralism. A photograph opposite p. 78 displays a huge school building. (During Mr Iyer's visit there were in fact twice as many blind pupils as deaf).


KETKAR, Indra (1964) Education of the Deaf and Mute. Poona: Samajseva Prakashan. ii + 57 pp.


[KIRK, E.A., given as: E.A.K.] (1920) Schools for the deaf in Baroda, India. The Teacher of the Deaf 18: 92-93.

The government of the Gaekwar of Baroda sent two men to Calcutta for training, but on their return "a great deal of apathy" prevented any official follow-up. The two men, Mr R.P. Nandurbarker and Mr. D.A. Trivedi, therefore each set up his own small private school for the deaf, both of which were later adopted by the government. "The oral method of teaching is used"; but at least, in contrast to the schools set up by most of the British teachers, "native teachers, who have been specially trained, instruct the scholars how to speak in the mother tongue of their country."


KNIGHT, J., SPAULDING, L. & HUTCHINGS, S. (1888) English and Tamil Dictionary, for the use of students and colleges ... Now enlarged, improved and Romanized, 3rd edition, revised by C. APPASAWMY PILLAI. Madras: Higginbotham. vi + 1511 pp.

Listed by English word, giving Tamil script and romanized equivalent. See e.g. Deaf (sevidAna, sevippulanaTTa, kELviyaTTa, kAthukELAtha); Dumb (UmaiyAna, mUgaiyAna, mUngkaiyAna, pEchchaTTa); Gesticulate (pAvanaikATTu, abinayi, kaimeykATTu, payilkATTu); Gesture (jAdai, saigai, abinayam, kaimeykATTu); Sign (made by the hand: saigai, kaippayil, kaichjAdai; made by the head: siragambam, thalaiyasaippu, thalaiyasaivu); Signal etc.


MAYNE, John D. A Treatise on Hindu Law and Usage. 9th edn, revised & edited by V.M. Coutts TROTTER (1922) Madras: Higginbothams.

pp. 868-876. Exclusion from inheritance on grounds of disability, including being born deaf or dumb. This is presented not as a form of discrimination, but because the Brahminical theory was that wealth inherited by sons should be used for making the appropriate sacrifices to lessen the sufferings and enhance the position of the deceased father. The inheritance must therefore go only to those who were permitted to perform such sacrifices, which excluded most disabled people (and various other categories of people). Various modern cases, definitions and judgements are discussed. "Where it is sought to exclude an heir on the grounds that he is blind, deaf or dumb, it is necessary to show that these defects are incurable and congenital."


McCONNELL, J.F.P. (1872) A case of congenital malformation. Indian Medical Gazette 7: 10.

Woochoop, a Bengali man aged 25 from village Connihatti near Rajshahi, was born with spinal deformity, digital peculiarities, and "almost complete absence" of external ears, with the orifice of the auditory canal closed on each side. The medical officer described him as "remarkably intelligent" and able to read and write. "He is deaf, but not completely so by any means: if, in speaking to him, the mouth is held close to the auditory canal, he can hear very fairly; as a rule, however, he prefers being spoken to through his mouth, i.e. in conversing he invariably keeps his mouth wide open, and then if the voice be raised to a moderately loud pitch, can hear remarkably well. ... I may add, that instead of considering himself an object of commiseration, he is, on the contrary, rather proud of his singular peculiarities, and makes a good deal of money by "exhibiting" himself. (See also: ELLIOT & DOWSON, V: 419-20.)


MILES, M. (1998) Goitre, cretinism & iodine in South Asia: historical perspectives on a continuing scourge. Medical History 42: 47-67.

Surveys and documents the history of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, often a factor associated with deafness in mountainous regions of South Asia.


MODI, Jivani Jamshedji (1914) Tibetan salutations and a few thoughts suggested by them. J. Anthropological Society of Bombay 10: 165-178.

Collects a variety of ethnological accounts of Tibetan gestures of salutation, and discusses them in some detail with reference to other Asian and European gestures.


MORGAN, Elizabeth [1931] Helping India's Deaf-mutes. London: Church of England Zenana Missionary Society. 16 pp.

This small missionary pamphlet was originally a BBC travel broadcast on 16 Nov, 1930, by the Principal of the School for the Deaf, Palamcottah, consisting of a series of positive anecdotes by which the school life of the deaf children and young people is illustrated. For example, one of the more able girls, Sanmoshavadivoo, returned to her home during the hot season vacation, and found that she and her younger brother (also at the deaf school) were the only people in the village who could read and write. She began teaching some of the village girls to read, and when it was time for her to return to school they begged her to stay and to continue teaching them.


MORGAN, E. (1947) Fetter free: a story of triumph over deafness. London : Zenith Press. Revised edn. (1948) Madras: Christian Literature Society for India. 63 pp. + plates.

Story of Gnanasunderam, a young orphan enrolled in the Florence Swainson School for the Deaf (Palamcottah, India). An outstanding student, she was later the first deaf member of staff at the school.


MÜLLER, F. Max (1899) Auld Lang Syne. Second Series. My Indian Friends. London: Longmans, Green. ix + 271 pp.

pp. 121-129 concern Pandita Ramabai. Müller wrote that "I saw much of her when she stayed with us at Oxford" (p. 122). It was after the suicide of Ramabai's companion, while the two young women were with the Sisters at Wantage, that Ramabai "came to stay with us at Oxford, and such was her nervous prostration that we had to give her a maidservant to sleep every night in the same room with her. Nor was this all. After all arrangements had been made to enable her to attend medical lectures at Oxford, her hearing became suddenly so much affected that she had to give up all idea of a medical career." (pp. 127-128) (See BAPAT, and DYER, above)


PARKER, Henry (1910-1914) Village Folk-Tales of Ceylon, collected and translated. 3 vols. London: Luzac.

I: 134-136. Story of "The Four Deaf Persons", whose mutually mis-heard conversations lead to trouble. (Cf AUNG's story, above. Parker cites further parallels, including DUBOIS, see above. )


PARRY, N.E. (1932) The Lakhers. Published by direction of the Government of Assam. London: MacMillan. xx + 640 pp.

pp. 501-503, in a chapter on "The Lakher language", Parry remarks that

"Lakher has no written language. ... Signs are used freely both to emphasise and to take the place of speech. If a Lakher wants people to sit down, he lowers the outstretched palm of his [p. 502] hand downwards two or three times; if he wants people to get up, the motion is reversed, the hand being raised two or three times, with the back of the hand uppermost." A description follows of several further non-verbal signals by hand or head, including a rude gesture commonly used by small boys; and also of tree-branch signs on roads, and whistling sounds to communicate while people are out hunting.


PHILLOTT, D.C. (1906) A note on the mercantile sign language of India. J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal new series, II (7) 333-334.

Notes that various covert buying and selling codes could be used by two parties in the bazar, who grasped hands under a covering drape and indicated their price and offer by the number of fingers given or taken, or by the section of a finger, or other manual codes, according to a well-known practice. This reduced the level of interference from idle bystanders. See PYRARD, and VARTHEMA, above.


PHILLOTT, D.C. (1907) A note on Sign-, Gesture-, Code-, and Secret-language, etc., amongst the Persians. J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal III (9) 619-22.

Describes briefly some common gestures or signals indicating e.g. silence, come here, yes, no, astonishment and disbelief, stop, go out; mentions also some women's codes.


PHILLOTT, D.C. (1914) Colloquial English-Persian Dictionary in the Roman Character, containing all English words in common use with their meanings in modern Persian with numerous examples. Calcutta.

See common disability words, such as blind, blockhead, cripple, deaf (including hard of hearing), dumb (gung, lal), lame (lang), simpleton; also gesture, sign (including beck, signal; and secret mark).


Report on Public Instruction in the Bombay Presidency for the Year 1923-24. Bombay: Central Govt Press. 1925. (Report by M. Hesketh).

Notes the first school catering for deaf children (among others) in what was later to become Pakistan: "The Ida Rieu School for blind, deaf, dumb and other defective children at Karachi was registered during the year [1923], and given a small grant." (p. 91)


Report on Public Instruction in the Madras Presidency for 1892-93. Madras, 1893. (Report by D. Duncan).

This and later annual reports to 1898 give increasing space to reports on Miss Askwith's schools for blind children, and (from 1896) Miss Swainson's work with deaf children. The report for 1897-98 gives extracts (pp. 118-119) from the government inspector Miss Carr's detailed report on her examination of deaf children, e.g.:

"With a little help from the teachers I was able to examine the children quite easily, both in counting and writing figures. In object lessons there is a sign for everything, but I found them so easy and suggestive, that with the help of the teacher, and pictures and objects I succeeded in testing the children's knowledge very fairly. ... It was my first examination of deaf and dumb children, and I was particularly struck with the ease with which the signs can be learnt. Miss Swainson and her two Tamil teachers seemed able to 'say' anything to the children, and to understand all that the children 'said'. The words 'say' and 'said' are literally not out of place here, for both Miss Swainson and the teachers invariably formed the words with their lips in addition to making the signs."


RISLEY, Herbert H. & GAIT, E.A. (1903) Census of India, 1901, vol. I, part I, Report, Calcutta: Government of India.

pp. 138-140 discuss some aspects of the India-wide data on deaf-mutism, e.g. "So long as there is any possibility of a child eventually acquiring the power of speech and hearing, its parents will not admit that it is deaf and dumb and the number returned at ages under 10 is, therefore, much below the truth. From the age of 10 onwards, the proportion of deaf-mutes steadily declines, thus showing, on the one hand, that they have a shorter span of life than persons not so afflicted, and on the other, that at the present census the figures have not been swollen at the higher ages by inclusion of persons who have merely become deaf in their old age, to the same extent as on previous occasions."


ROSE, H.A. (1919) The language of gesture. Folklore 30: 312-315.

Briefly noted some hand gestures and their meanings in Hindustan, with references from antiquity onward. Concluded that "While much of the gesture-language of India is still obscure, it seems to be clear enough that the so-called poses of Indian art include gestures as well as poses of the hands and that the conventionalised forms of both were based on a widely used, well understood and somewhat elaborate gesture-language."


SALAJAN, Ioanna (1974) Zen Comics. Rutland, Vermont: Charles Tuttle. 88 pp.

pp. 64-68. Depicts in cartoon form the 'Buddhist tale' of a travelling monk seeking a night's stay at a Zen temple. To obtain lodging, the custom is that he must first win a theological debate. The rough-looking, one-eyed man whom the learned traveller challenges to the debate asks to conduct it silently, by signs. After some signing, the traveller concedes defeat - but the two men have completely different ideas of what they were debating. (Dating this tale to 'Buddhist antiquity' in South Asia is rather speculative without further information; however, the possibility of a gestural dialogue being completely misinterpreted is illustrated in the Maha-Ummagga-Jataka - see Jataka, above. Similar stories and variations appear in Asian and European folklore over many centuries.)


SEELEY, L.M. [1920 ?] "Ephphatha." The work of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society among the Deaf in India and Ceylon. London: CEZMS. 29 pp.

Compiled from reports by Miss Swainson, Miss Chapman and others, this pamphlet tells of the development of work with deaf people at Palamcottah (pp. 4-18), Madras (18-19) and Colombo (20-29). Includes some notes and a clear photograph of deaf-blind Helen Pyari:

pp. 14-15. "When she first arrived, although often laughing, she seemed to understand very little, but the kindness of the older pupils and the sympathy of her teachers soon won her confidence, and now she writes in Braille the lessons which are spelt on her hands, and types them out on her little Blick typewriter. She is such a merry little creature and her happy laugh is a lesson to all. She can spell on her hands the names of all the things she uses and feels. She has learnt scripture, arithmetic, object lessons, clay modelling and knitting."


SAWDAY, G.W. (1898) Pandita Ramabai's Homes in India. Work and Workers in the Mission Field 7: 313.

See notes under DYER, above.


SEN, Dinesh Chandra (1925) Glimpses of Bengal Life, Calcutta UP.

pp. 237-241. Among the folklore of Bengal, Sen translates a hilarious account by Bharat Chandra of a feud between Shiva and the sage Vyasa. The latter speaks unwisely, so Shiva causes him to become paralysed, "losing the power of speech and motion." Vishnu advises Vyasa to make amends by singing Shiva's praise. However, "Vyasa's eyes were full of tears but he showed by signs that he had lost his voice", so Vishnu touches his throat and his voice returns.

pp. 250-255. Later, Vyasa invokes the unwilling aid of Shiva's wife. His severe penances force Parvati to visit him, which she does disguised as a wrinkled, hunchbacked, rambling old crone, so deaf that "one had to cry oneself hoarse to make her understand what one said." Playing up her deafness and memory loss, the 'old crone' taxes Vyasa repeatedly, pretending not to hear him and misunderstanding his words, until finally he loses his temper and shouts abuse at her. Parvati then transforms herself, and slips from the sage's moral grasp by turning his words back on himself.


SETH, Dev Raj (n.d., c.1936?) "A History of Western Education in India" 1854-1920. A thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. [Bound typescript, library of School of Oriental & African Studies, Univ. London.]

p. 284 "Another institution was started in Bombay in the early part of the year 1884, by the Vicar Apostolic of Bombay, Bishop Meurin. This prelate met in the course of one of his pastoral visitations two or three deaf and dumb boys, the children of Roman Catholic christians, who were members of his flock, and compassionating their melancholy resolved to establish a school for the training of children similarly affected. He opened a class in his own house but in February 1886 the classes were transferred to a building of its own on Grant Road." (Cf HULL, above).


SHERWOOD, Richard C. (1820) Of the murderers called P'hánsIgárs. Asiatick Researches, 13: 250-281. [Reprinted in: W.H. SLEEMAN (1836) Ramaseeana, Appendix V, pp. 327-362.]

p. 271. Sherwood, whose account was dated December 1816, noted that it was "meant to be more particularly applicable to those gangs that were settled in the northern part of the Carnatic and in the Ceded Districts, antecedently to the year 1808", since when some changes had taken place.

p. 265 "The utility to such criminals as P'hánsIgárs of signs, and of words and phrases not understood by others, as channels of communication must be obvious. It is accordingly found that several such are employed by them. Some of those in more frequent use I shall mention; and the catalogue might have been easily extended.

Drawing the back of the hand along the chin, from the throat outwards, implies that caution is requisite - that some stranger is approaching. Putting the open hand over the mouth and drawing it gently down implies that there is no longer cause for alarm. If an advanced party of P'hánsIgárs overtake any traveller whom they design to destroy, but have need of more assistance, they make certain marks on the road, by which those of the gang who follow understand that they are required to hasten forwards. A party in advance also leaves certain marks where a road branches off, as intimations to those who follow of the route their comrades have taken."

There follows Sherwood's list of some slang terms in the P'hánsIgárs' spoken vocabulary. (Sherwood's P'hánsIgárs were later mainly known as Thugs or Thags).


SKINNER, Thomas (1833) Excursions in India; including a walk over the Himalaya Mountains, to the sources of the Jumna and the Ganges, 2nd edn, 2 vols, London: Bentley.

Vol. I: 305-306, observations on goitre in the Himalayas.

II: 36-38. "I have been very much surprised to find several deaf and dumb children in this village: I have seen five boys and one man so afflicted, and the brahmin tells me there are as many more in Dorali, in the same state. ... The parents of the dumb youths call them idiots, and say they are good for nothing. The expressions of their countenances belie that character: they appear to me to be lively and inquisitive to a degree - qualities that fools never possess. The want of power in the parents to express their wishes in any other way than by speech, is rather the cause of their uselessness than imbecility. ... They die early; for it is singular that there always have been dumb children, while instances of such men are rare. ... I never could hear of a speechless girl. No female had been born dumb within the recollection of the oldest brahmin of Mookba."


SLEEMAN, William Henry (1836) Ramaseeana, or A vocabulary of the peculiar language used by the Thugs, with an introduction and appendix, descriptive of the system pursued by that fraternity [&c]. Calcutta: G.H. Huttman, Military Orphan Press. v + 270 pp. + tables + 27 appendices.

In view of H.L. SHUKLA's suggestion (see above) about Sleeman "analyzing the sign language" of the Thugs, a more detailed annotation is given here.

Sleeman stated (p. 3) that "I have, I believe, entered in this Vocabulary every thing to which Thugs in any part of India have thought it necessary to assign a peculiar term; and every term peculiar to their associations with which I have become acquainted. I am satisfied that there is no term, no rite, no ceremony, no opinion, no omen or usage that they have intentionally concealed from me; and if any have been accidentally omitted after the numerous narratives that I have had to record, and cases to investigate, they can be comparatively very few and unimportant." On p. 4, Sleeman made some more general remarks about the "peculiar dialect the Thugs call Ramasee", and its development as Thug clans became geographically separated. There follows further information about the Thugs' activities, and their suppression by the British authorities (pp. 5-66). The actual vocabulary of Ramasee, with definitions, occupies pp. 67-140. Next appear translations of detailed conversations between Sleeman and various senior Thugs (pp. 141-270), held while he was preparing the vocabulary list. The 27 appendices (totalling 515 pp.) comprise various reports and correspondence about Thug practices, and their suppression.

The reports and vocabulary show that the Thugs perceived a thriving world of signals and omens, e.g. in the appearance and calls of birds and wild creatures; and they used various innocuous spoken phrases as signals for deceiving and attacking travellers. However, in the mass of material assembled by Sleeman, only a few incidental notes describe communicative non-verbal signs or signals (e.g. pp. 44, 99, 178, 265, 416), apart from a short, specific passage (pp. 345-346) in Appendix V by R. SHERWOOD (see separate entry), originating in 1816. (It may be noted that R. Singha, 1993, 'Providential' circumstances: the Thuggee campaign of the 1830s and legal innovation, Modern Asian Studies, 27: 83-146, especially pp. 117-119, 124-125, is rather fashionably dismissive of both Sherwood's and Sleeman's efforts to document the Thugs' dialect. At least, however, Singha's views are based on some study of their published work).


SMITH, M. Saumarez (1915) C.E.Z.M.S. Work among the Deaf in India & Ceylon, London: Church of England Zenana Mission Society.

See extract under AMMAL (above).

p. 7 "The next year [1907] was memorable in the annals of the [Palamcottah] school as it witnessed the advent of little [deaf and] blind Pyari ... She has responded in a marked degree to the training bestowed on her, and bids fair to be another Helen Keller."

p. 13 "We must now take a brief survey of the work in Ceylon, which was started in 1913 under the charge of Miss M.F. Chapman at Dehiwala, near Colombo. According to the Census of 1911, there were then over 3,000 deaf mutes in the island, and the number of blind children was even greater. The school is open to these as well as to the deaf and dumb. The specially encouraging feature of the work here is the extraordinary interest taken in it by the Ceylonese themselves."


SRINIVASAN, S., SUBRAMANYAN, T.A.V., SINHA, A., DEO, M.G. & RAMALINGASWAMI, V. (1964) Himalayan endemic deafmutism. Lancet (July 25, 1964) pp. 176-178.

Biomedical study of 20 deaf people and nine of their close relatives at Bettiah, Bihar, in a region notorious for iodine deficiency disorders, suggesting the continuation of phenomena earlier observed by travellers and District Officers (see e.g. ALLEN, HUTTON, MILES, SKINNER, and Bengal District Gazetteers).


STEPHEN, James F. (1872) The Indian Evidence Act (1. of 1872) with an Introduction on the Principles of Judicial Evidence. London: MacMillan.

p. 200 (Chapter IX). "118. All persons shall be competent to testify unless the Court considers that they are prevented from understanding the questions put to them, or from giving rational answers to those questions, by tender years, extreme old age, disease, whether of body or mind, or any other cause of the same kind."

"119. A witness who is unable to speak may give his evidence in any other manner in which he can make it intelligible, as by writing or by signs: but such writing must be written and the signs made in open Court. Evidence so given shall be deemed to be oral evidence." (See also MARGHINANI, above).


STOKES, Maive (1880) Indian Fairy Tales collected and translated. London: Ellis & White. xxxii + 303 pp.

pp. 208-215, the story of Panwpatti Rani. On p. 208 the departing princess makes signals to the Raja's son, so that he can discover her name and destination, but he does not comprehend what he sees. On p. 210, the friend of the Raja's son interprets the signals, and they set out to find the princess. (The same story appears in SOMADEVA's Kathasaritsagara. See also THOMPSON & ROBERTS below).


SWAINSON, Florence (1906) Report of the Deaf and Dumb and Industrial School in connection with the Church of England Zenana Mission, Palamcottah, South India, for 1905. Palamcottah: Church Mission Press.

p. 9 "Our services for the Deaf are chiefly in the sign language, in which all can join alike, whether learning Tamil, as those do who belong to the Madras Presidency, or English, which is taught to those coming from other parts."

Given the evidence of strong Oralism in the handful of other existing deaf schools, and the efforts of their staff to discourage signing among the students at those schools, these church worship services for the Deaf at Palamcottah may have been the first public or semi-public occasions, in modern times of India, where Sign Language was the recognised, 'official' medium of communication.


SWAINSON, [F.] (1907) Correspondence. Palamcottah School for the Deaf. The Messenger (Belfast) VIII (No. 10, Sept-Oct) 180.

Miss Swainson reported the recent arrival of "a little Blind and Deaf and Dumb Brahmin girl of ten" (later known as Pyari), and described some efforts to teach her. She requested any advice and suitable equipment for teaching this girl. [The author's name is given with initial "T.", presumably a misreading of the manuscript letter "F." = Florence Swainson. Elsewhere, the article refers to adopting the "Janiel" alphabet with its 247 letters; this must have been a misreading of "Tamil" alphabet.]


SWAINSON, F. (1914) The education of the deaf in India. Volta Review 16: 173-177.

This paper was read at the Eighth Biennial Conference of the British National Association of Teachers of the Deaf, Glasgow, July 1913. As a result, Miss Swainson was rather apologetic about the fact that the earlier work at the Palamcottah school had involved signing:

p. 174. "I began by using as many pictures as we could get hold of. I happened to have an old German book full of all kinds of pictures - it had been used for teaching the deaf in Germany. There were 100 tiny pictures and these were all acted. The people of India all gesticulate; they have a complete language of gesticulation. After a time I felt I must do something more."


SWAINSON, F. [1915 or 1916 ?] 'Ephphatha' No. 2. Work for Christ amongst the Deaf and Dumb Children of India. Pamphlet, 15 pp.

Report on the start of formal education for deaf children in Southern India, c. 1897 onward, with some discussion of methods. "Much as I should have liked to stay in England to be properly trained for the work, that was impossible - I was needed in India - so all I could do was to go about telling the need and pleading for help. At the end of a few months I returned with £1,000, and with the permission of my Committee to devote myself to the Deaf. ... Not knowing anything of the oral method of teaching the deaf, we adapted Tamil with its 240 letters to a finger alphabet, and with the help of pictures and signs with which all the people of India are familiar, we soon reached the children's minds and began our class. As we look back the method seems very crude and unorthodox, but it answered its purpose and until we knew of something better was all we could do." (pp. 4-5). (By the time Swainson wrote this, Oral classes had begun under a trained British teacher. However, Swainson continued, "our Palamcottah School can never be totally oral, for many come there too old to begin speech and in the short time they are with us we must teach them as much as possible.")

Also mentions one deaf-blind pupil, Pyari (pp. 9-10). See also AMMAL, and M.S. SMITH (above), and Zenana School (below).


SWYNNERTON, Charles (1892) Indian Nights' Entertainment; or, folk tales from the Upper Indus, London: Stock; reprint 1978, titled 'Folk Tales from the Upper Indus', Islamabad: National Institute of Folk Heritage. xxiii + 380 pp.

Index gives "Dumb signs and tokens, a means of communicating in matters of intrigue and love."

pp. 163-64, hand signals by a woman carried in a litter, to the bearers. pp. 167-69, hand signals by a princess in a boat, to a prince ashore.


SYDENHAM, Roger (1974) Visit to Iran. Hearing 29: 172-74.

Brief view of education for deaf children.


TAYLOR, Wallace W. & TAYLOR, Isabelle W. (1970) Services for the Handicapped in India, New York: International Society for Rehabilitation of the Disabled. v + 392 pp.

pp. 187-210, chapter on "The Deaf", reviews India-wide education and employment services during the 1960s, citing a variety of journal and official sources. Contains very little about the lives of deaf people.


THAN, A.M. (1970) Education of the deaf in Burma. A brief outline. Hearing (Royal National Institute for the Deaf) 25 (4) 108-111.

"Prior to 1885, when Burma was a kingdom, the welfare of handicapped people was part of the monastic system of education. Buddhist monks looked after the handicapped children." Formal education for deaf children was begun at Rangoon in 1920 by Miss Mary Chapman and Miss Walden, from England. Their Burmese counterpart was an experienced teacher, Daw Sein Tha.


THESIGER, Wilfred (1964) The Marsh Arabs. London: Longmans

In the confluence of the Tigri and Euphrates in Iraq, Thesiger noticed that "The tribesmen were especially kind to the afflicted, and among them a major physical disability was perhaps less of a handicap than in some parts of the world. Also in Dibin was a boy who, though born blind, moved freely about in the village and even went out a short way by himself in a canoe to collect hashish. During the years I was in the Marshes I met several deaf-and-dumb boys and men, who were happy and friendly, and who fitted usefully into the life of the community." (p.168) Thesiger gave details of people who had switched gender identity, which was also tolerated without much bother (pp. 169-170)


THOMPSON, Stith & BALYS, Jonas (1958) The Oral Tales of India. Bloomington: Indiana UP; reprinted 1976, Greenwood Press.

South Asian folklore is here brought into categories, with copious examples. In Section X100-X199, Humor of Disability, seven types of tales appear under "Humor of deafness", with references from across South Asia. The humour always seems to turn on misunderstandings by deaf people of something spoken to them. (Cf AUNG; PARKER) See also next entry.


THOMPSON, S. & ROBERTS, Warren E. (1960) Types of Indic Oral Tales. India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. FF Communications No. 180. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, Academia Scientarum Fennica. 181 pp.

p. 76. "516A. The Sign Language of the Princess." References to the many instances of this typical South Asian folk story, in which "The prince sees a lovely princess who makes signs to him. .. The friend interprets them."

p. 163. "1698. Deaf persons and Their Foolish Answers." A single reference, to Kachari folk tales.

pp. 163-64. "1704. Sign Language Misunderstood." References to seven publications giving South Asian versions of a sign debate in which each party misunderstands the other's meaning. (In the index, p.179, this is mistakenly shown as no. 1614B).


THORBURN, Septimus S. (1876) BannU; or Our Afghan Frontier. London: Trübner; reprinted 1978, Lahore: Sang-e-Meel.

Among many folk tales, a familiar one tells of a fakir who greets three peasants, and they squabble over which of them the greeting was directed to. Each tells a story outdoing the others in stupidity. The first, staying once with relatives, was caught in the middle of the night cramming his mouth with their food. "Seeing it so distended, they asked what had befallen me; but, as I dared not speak, I made a sign in dumb show. 'A jinn (spirit) has struck him', they said."


Tibetan Tales derived from Indian sources. Translated from the Tibetan of the Kah-Gyur. F. Anton von SCHIEFNER, transl. to German; W.R.S. RALSTON, transl. to English (1882). London: Trübner. lxv + 368 pp.

pp. 247-252 (from Kah-gyur vi, fol.89-99), entitled "The Dumb Cripple", is an abbreviated version of the Muga-Pakkha-Jataka (see The Jataka, above).


VASTA, Rajendra Singh (1972, July) History of the education and training of deaf-mutes in India, 1884-1915. Teacher Education 6 (4) 23-36.


WEBB, J.R.D. (1927) The medical inspection of school children at Simla, in: Some Experiments in Indian Education, 77-84. Occasional Reports No. 14. Calcutta: Bureau of Education, India.

Monthly inspections of schoolboys were begun in 1923, with their class teachers attending. "Special attention is paid to cleanliness, skin diseases, ear diseases, deafness, eye diseases, dental diseases, oral sepsis and mental capacity." (p. 77) After successful treatments and health education, the boys' health condition improved measurably, and the scheme was extended to reach over 2000 schoolboys.

"Eye diseases and defective hearing. - 2.7 per cent. suffered from ear diseases and defective hearing, by treatment this figure has been reduced to 0.55 per cent. It is estimated that about 2 per cent. of children in England and Wales suffer from these conditions."


WELIKALA, J.L.O. (1962) Founding of deaf education in Ceylon. In: 50 Years 1912-1962 Jubilee Souvenir, 43-64. Ratmalane: Ceylon School for the Deaf and Blind.

Detailed study quoting extensively from early reports by head teachers, government inspectors etc, with some discussion of the staff training, pedagogy (Oral method), language medium and curriculum, equipment, training for cottage industries, etc. and many photographs.


WORTH, Robert M. & SHAH, Narayan K. (1969) Nepal Health Survey 1965-1966. Honolulu: Univ. Hawaii Press.

pp. 49-57, spotty and high goitre prevalence and consequent mental retardation and hearing impairment; tabulated rates of hearing impairment from 4.9 to 11.0 per thousand, in 19 Terai villages.. pp. 96-97, "hearing acuity was routinely tested with a tuning fork." Among 5,011 people examined, bilateral severe deafness was found in 64 (1.3 per cent)


WRIGHT, John Dutton (1926) Schools for the Deaf in India. Volta Review 28: 348-355; 593-595. (Also pp. 415-417, 769-770, under separate entries)

Account of Wright's visits in 1924 to schools at Calcutta (under Atal Chand Chatterji); Ahmedabad (under Pranshauker L. Desai, who founded it in 1908, having taught his own deaf son since 1894); and in the state of Baroda (under Mr Nandurbarker, who established it in 1909). Several photographs of staff and children are included. Apart from demonstrating his own particular approach to making the best use of some children's residual hearing, Wright commented on general conditions in these residential schools:

p. 352 "I cannot too strongly stress the desirability of approaching, as nearly as possible in our schools for the deaf, to normal conditions of family life, and avoiding to the greatest possible extent the "institutionalization," awful word as it is, of our pupils. We all sorrowfully recognize the difference between a "Home" with a capital H, and a home with a small h." (Published in 1926...)

pp. 593-595. Gives some details of teaching, languages, and pupils at the Bombay Institution for Deaf-Mutes, and a photograph of a tailoring class, "taught by an old pupil". A useful list appears of 28 old pupils, showing their employment, some with details of age, pay, employer, duration of their work, etc. Thirteen worked as draughtsmen or in printing, lithography, painting or studio work. Others were clerks, typists, fitters, carpenters, tailors.


WRIGHT, J.D. (1926) School for the Deaf Colombo, Ceylon. Volta Review 28: 415-417.

Report on Wright's visit to this exclusively Oral school (under Miss Gibbon and Miss Miskin), with many perceptive comments; also exhibiting some racial and religious prejudices typical of westerners at this time.


WRIGHT, J.D. (1926) Prof. Date's Deaf and Dumb School. Volta Review 28: 769-770.

Visit to the school founded in 1907 by 'Prof.' Date, a rural town station master who became interested in teaching deaf boys, and developed his own language teaching methods, including signs accompanying spoken sounds. Teachers trained in his methods were said to have started schools at Amraoti, Nagpur, Jamnagar, Surat, Poona, Burma, Gavakadi, Ladnoon (in Mariar).


YOUNG, Miriam (1916) Among the Women of the Punjab. A camping record. London: Carey Press.

p. 87, casual observation by a missionary attached to medical work, of a teenage boy apparently with multiple disabilities, including deafness.

"He stood in the middle of the crowd, called up by his mother. He was a boy of about fourteen. He was deaf and dumb. He was imbecile. His long, narrow head was never still. He blinked his vacant eyes, and turned them up till nothing could be seen of his pupils. Arms, legs, and body were moving all the time. He carried a twig in his hand, and as he stood there he was diligently gnawing at the end of it as though it was the one business of his life. The mother asked pathetically if it were too late for anything to be done. She had taken him to Malwar once, perhaps a year ago, but the Doctor Sahib had said it was too late. He could do nothing for him. If she had brought him in when he was a baby, perhaps something might have been done."


The Zenana School for the Deaf & Dumb. Reprint from "Home Magazine" of 24 Feb. 1900, for Central Foreign Fund of the British Deaf and Dumb Association. 16 pp.

Pamphlet with photos, illustrating the beginnings and early years of Miss Swainson's school for deaf children, including a leaflet giving the story of one of the pupils, Stephen, a six year old who had been found begging at a railway station in Ceylon. Three deaf girls had been "brought in close succession to the industrial class" attached to the Palamcottah schools for able-bodied children. Enquiries were made to find some suitable place for them, but none was available. "But when Miss Swainson looked at the bright, intelligent faces of the three native deaf-mute children, and observed the readiness with which they picked up signs, she felt at once that they could be taught, and ought to be taught, so made inquiries as to some school that would receive them." But the only deaf schools then were far away in Bombay and Calcutta. "Miss Swainson, therefore, decided to open a small class for the children herself. She had no experience in teaching the deaf, and there was nobody to tell her how. She found, however, by means of natural signs and pantomime, it was easier than she expected to make the children understand; and, the way thus opened, her experience as a teacher of the hearing stood her in good stead. ... No attempt was made to teach the children to speak or read the lips; their number, environment, and the time and funds at disposal utterly forbade it." (See SWAINSON, 1906 and 1915/16, for further details).

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