The inventor of the telephone is one that most people would not associate with disabilities or incapacitations of any sorts. As a matter of fact, his father, grandfather and brother all worked in the field of speech and elocution, and both his mother and wife were deaf. Notice I did not capitalise this word this time; these women did not use sign language. Quite the contrary: the Bell family advocated for teaching the deaf how to speak and lip-read, lied about sign language being a hindrance in their lives, and even created incredible lies that helped promote discrimination against Deaf people in all walks of life.
Incredible, you say? Astonishing, you shout? A simple Google search on Bell and Deaf and you will see for yourself: to say this man was a thorn in the Deaf community’s side is an understatement. And worse yet – the invention of the telephone was entirely accidental; his goal was to find a tool to make deaf people hear better, and he ended up unwillingly creating the best communication tool in the world. Technology and invention is often pure luck, as they say...
Most post-secondary courses and information sites, such as Wikipedia, do not speak of the father of the telephone’s dark side since it is extremely controversial, to say the least. Although he was a genius in science in general, he sorely lacked in understanding about the human genes, and this is where his treacherous deceit began.
Strangely enough, for someone who had such important deaf figures in his life – the two most important women in any man’s life, the mother and the wife – he was astoundingly anti-deaf. He published reports detailing his ‘findings’ on the deaf gene and what it could do to humanity if leaders did not keep a close eye on this community and intervene when crucial.
First, without properly researching why people become deaf, he began by saying that most cases are genetic. This has been proven false; the deaf gene is responsible for only 0.1% of hearing impairment across the world. Therefore, even considering that deaf people beget more deaf people is absurd, yet this is what Bell claimed high and loud.
He then concluded that if deaf people intermarried, they would automatically give birth to deaf children. A simple look at the ones who married and had children would have been enough to prove his hypothesis wrong. Yet, he obstinately refused to see the truth and continued telling hearing people – especially parents of deaf children – that they should forbid a fully deaf wedlock.
As though this wasn’t enough, he started to explain that if we were to allow this, it would be the creation of a superhuman race of deaf beings that would be so intelligent, they would overpower hearing people and take over the world. Although this article does not detail his fear of this superhuman race, it explains his shockingly high level of xenophobia. He concluded the superhuman theory since he believed that a species of animal becomes stronger when you do selective breeding, which nowadays has been proven wrong. Furthermore, the deaf gene is not a positive one, which means that it would not encourage stronger genes in children; we now know that it is the opposite as other weak genes often come out along with the deafness gene in babies. For example, it is not uncommon to see deaf people with other disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, mild to medium paralysis, and severe eyesight problems such as mild to severe blindness (like the Usher Syndrome).
Furthermore, as per with blue eyes, the only way a child can be born deaf is if both parents carry the deafness gene and both gave it to the baby. As a matter of fact, deaf people, just like hearing people, typically give birth to hearing children. Deaf families are not the norm.
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