In this landmark reader, Benjamin Fraser offers in five parts 44 Spanish documents dating from 1417 to the present, translated for the first time to trace the turbulent history of Deaf culture in Spain. Part I: The Birth of Oralism and Deafness as Metaphor illustrates the predominant impression of deafness as isolation, exemplified by Teresa de Cartagena writings in 1455-60 about deafness as an island. Part II: The Return to Deaf Education highlights writers who wished to restore “the Spanish ‘Art’” of educating deaf students. Lorenzo Hervás y Panduro wrote The Spanish School of Deafmutes, or Method of Teaching Them to Write and Speak the Spanish Language in 1795. Yet, Madrid’s Royal School for Deaf-Mutes, which opened in 1805, taught deaf students using methodical signs adopted from France’s Abbé de l’Epée.
Readings in Part III :The Contemporary Deaf Experience reveal considerations from the 1970s to the ‘90s of Deaf culture and linguistics similar to those in the United States, typified by the works of Inés Polo and Félix-Jesús Pinedo Peydró. The fourth part, The Recognition of Deaf Language and Culture, marks the expansion of academic research in Spain. María Angeles Rodríguez González spearheaded Spanish Sign Language (LSE) linguistics in 1992 with her publication Sign Language. The final part, A Selection of Deaf Poetry, concludes these documents with verse in Spanish spoken dialects rather than LSE, indicating that the evolution of the Deaf experience in Spain continues on its own path today.