Ferdinand Berthier, a French educator and philosopher, is honoured in today’s Google Doodle. When people with hearing differences were seen poorly by society at the time, he was among the first to campaign for Deaf culture.
On this day in 1803, Berthier was born in Saône-et-Loire, France. He began attending the National Institute for the Deaf in Paris when he was eight years old and was a Deaf child. His parents anticipated he would pick up fundamental literacy and vocational skills to get ready for a job as a tradesman. However, Berthier did well in school and was motivated to work in education by his professors, particularly Laurent Clerc. He returned to the National Institute for the Deaf to teach after completing more education. He rose to become one of the school’s senior professors by the age of 27.
For Deaf Frenchmen, Berthier hosted the first silent supper in 1834. The following years saw an increase in the attendance of women, journalists, and government representatives. Berthier also succeeded in requesting that the French government establish a group to represent the interests of the Deaf population. The birth of the Société Centrale des Sourds-muets. The first established organisation of its sort, it assisted in setting up Deaf people’s mutual aid programmes and adult education classes.
Berthier used his newfound notoriety to highlight other inspiring Deaf individuals and lessons after becoming well-known as a result of those activities. He frequently cited sign-language poets as authors in his works while also writing volumes about the development of sign language and biographies of individuals who battled for Deaf rights. In the meantime, he encouraged Société Centrale des Sourds-muets to expand globally. As the first Deaf person to obtain France’s highest honour, the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, Berthier got it in 1849.
Berthier remains a leading advocate for Deaf rights, and his work improved understanding and public perception of the deaf and hard-of-hearing people in both Europe and the United States. There are still silent banquets held nowadays all across the world.
Additionally, Berthier’s work promoted the use of sign language in Deaf education and worked to increase public awareness of the value of sign language and Deaf culture. Berthier’s constant advocacy and campaigning have made it possible for Deaf and hard of hearing persons to enjoy more of their human rights than ever before, including access to healthcare and the ability to operate motor vehicles.
Happy Birthday, Ferdinand Berthier!
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