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Martha's Vineyard and Deaf Community
Transcript of Martha's Vineyard and Deaf Community
Migrating to Martha's Vineyard
For over 200 years, the island of Martha's Vineyard had been the home to one of the largest deaf communities in the country.
Located on the shores of Massachusetts, Martha Vineyard was named and discovered by Bartholomew Gosnald in 1602. He named Martha's Vineyard after his daughter who had previously died during pregnancy.
In the mid 1600's, a family from Weald, England settled on the island of Martha's Vineyard. The family carried a hereditary gene of deafness, and as they married and intermarried the rate of deaf people born on the island rose steadily . This caused for majority of the island to have atleast one family member apart of the Deaf community.
Deaf migration to the mainland
In the early 19th century, the first school for the deaf emerged in Hartford, Connecticut. This allowed students to be able to be taught Asl by educated teachers who would really be able to help them learn not only wide varities of signs, but also learn grammar use.
Families apart of the MV community only used majority of home signs to communicate with one another which may not be understood in other places.
As the school opened 1817, many children from Martha's Vineyard enrolled to the school of the Deaf .
Deaf Migration Cont.
ALS taught at the Connecticut school for the Deaf, was influenced by and taught through French sign language.
The school of the Deaf became the birthplace of the Deaf community in the U.S. and, the different sign systems used there including MVL, merged to become American Sign languge.
Asl is now one of the largest community languages in the country.
Martha's Vineyard Sign Langauage (MVSL)
Matha's Vineyard was one of the first and only places that accepted the deaf culture during the early 1600's, and the early 1700's.
Due to the fact that majority of the community on the island were deaf, and could not communicate with one another, People of the community decided to create a more simple form of ASL, This form 0f ASL is known as MVSL, which is composed of more symbols than actual ASL.
MVSL was used by both hearing and non hearing people. Being Deaf was never considered to be handicap, as it would be considered in many other places.
Disrupted Life on the Island
Through new oppuntunities on the mainlands, many people apart of the MV community started to leave to seek better opputunities. Athough majority left, some deaf people still decided to remain in Martha's Vineyard.
Others who returned to the island, brought back with them spouses that they may have met on the mainlands. Some of the new spouses deafness was not due to heriditary casue, which caused the line of heriditary deafness to diminish.
As the 20th century apporoched, Martha's Vineyard started to affract much tourist attention. The island was no longer isolated by the Deaf community , which caused tourist jobs to not be as deaf friendly as fishing and farming was to the Deaf community.
Disrupted Life Cont.
By the mid 20th centry, majority of the Deaf community migrated to the mainlands because Martha's Vineyard no longer benifited them.
The last person born into the islands sign language tradition, was Katie West who died in 1952.
As timed moved on, elderly were able to recall MVSL as early as the 1980's. Its is also rumered that when Oliver Sacks visited the island of Martha's Vineyard, he witnessed a group of ederly in a conversation which drifted to sign language and them back to spoken voice.
Life on the island of Martha's Vineyard would never be the same after the 20th century.