Introduction • According to the Health Ministry there are 200 hearing impaired children born in Romania each year. • The percent of hearing impaired children in the total population of Romania is approximately 1 to 1000.
The first written evidence… • About people with disabilities in Romania is found in the documents (clerical) of the 15th century to 17th century – at the time of Stefan the Great, Petru Rares, Matei Basarab, Michael the Brave and Vasile Lupu, who ruled the provinces Moldavia and Wallachia. • Legal documents of the time, record the existence of deaf people and the provisions granted to them in the courts-of-law, such as leniency and services of an interpreter in case the deaf defendants or witnesses could not write. • Reference is also made to “deaf-mutes” who, though unable to speak , could read and write, heaving received home-based education, from monk or priest tutors. • In 18th century Europe deaf education is provided in charity shelters or monasteries, for groups of people irrespective of their social status – the starting points of the special schools in England, France or Germany.
The first educational unit • For the deaf was the private institute at Dumbraveni (Elisabetopol) in Transylvania, run by Bacila, a former hussar officer in Napoleon’s army, in 1827 – 1831 and 1846. Bacila had visited the National Institute for the young deaf in Paris, founded by Abbot de L’Epée in 1770 and tried to initiate a similar school in his own country, employing sign language in the teaching of deaf pupils. Due to the lack of financial resources, his school was closed in 1846.
The first special school for deaf • That has been functioning uninterrupted, was started at the “Elena Doamna” Orphanage in Cotroceni, Bucharest, on November 15th ,1863, at the initiative of Dr. Carol davila, former general inspector and founder of Romanian health services. Later the school became autonomous and moved residence to the Ghica – Tei Palace, Bucharest. • In 1895 the school was moved to the town of Focsani, into a more appropriate building – the Institute of Deaf – Mutes – whose first teacher was a hearing – impaired person, educated in Vienna and Paris. Though not recorded in documents his name seems to have been Palla and he thought his students by mime, graphics and finger spelling methods. Other pioneering teachers were: Melanie, George Stefanescu and Nicolae Ionescu – Tei, the latter being also the school’s Head in Bucharest and Focsani, between 1870 and 1901. • Today the name of this school is “Elena Doamna” School Center for Inclusive Education - Focsani
Other educational units for the deaf included: • A private school in Timisoara, initiated and run by Carol Schaefer (1841 – 1912). This school had no continuity and it is not known what methods they employed or how they functioned. The present-day vocational school in Timisoara (officially founded in 1885) is considered to be the successor of Shaefer’s traditions. • Special education units and institutes at Arad (1885), Cluj (1888), Cernauti/Czernowitz (1908), Bucharest (1919), Iasi/Jassy(1931/1932) etc. • The Bucharest school for the Deaf (founded 1919) has functioned as a Girls School since 1921 and a Boys school since 1927. Both schools were initially based in very old inadequate buildings and later on they moved to new locations: - the Boys School – in the district Bucurestii Noi - the Girls School – in a new building in Drumul Taberei District (1976). • At present the girls School is named “St. Mary” School for the Hearing Impaired Bucharest, a pilot school for the training of new teachers, celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.
V. Methods. Teachers. Publications • All these schools used signing methods, graphics and finger-spelling, which were gradually replaced by the German “oral” method of speech learning, following the Congress of the teachers for the deaf in Milan, in 1880. • Although the oral method was applied with moderation, the results were not up to the expectations; therefore after over a century and a re-evaluation of the deaf school methods, total comunication methods are thought to be the best. • To popularize the “oral” method, the following publications were used: - L. Gogonillot: “How to Make the Deaf – mutes Speak Aloud” (paris 1894), translated into Romanian in 1896; - D. Rusceac: “Introducing deaf – Mutes to Spoken Language” (Cernauti 1933); - E. Baican, N. Ionescu: “Basic Notions on Articulation or Instructions for Making the Deaf – Mutes Speak” (Bucharest 1884) - N. Ionescu: articles in the magazine “Convorbiri didactice” 1895, 1896, 1987; - Literature translated from French and German, the first ABC books, reading and speech development books
Mention should be made of the outstanding personality of Professor Dimitrie Rusticeanu (D. Rusceac) who studied in Vienna and, upon returning to Romania, was appointed headmaster of “Queen Mary” Institute for the Blind and Deaf – Mutes in Cernauti/ Czernowitz, a position held between 1912 and 1940. He published numerous works which contained the ideas of European experts in the field of speech learning: • “ A Curriculum for the Deaf institutes in Romania” (1923) • “Reading Book” (1924) • “The Study of the Romanian Language in the Deaf School” (1931) • “Sign Language” (1932) • “Introducing the Deaf – Mutes to Spoken Language” (1933) • “Teaching the Mother language in the School for Deaf-Mutes” (1935) All this literature marked the transition from sign language to the oral approach in the schools for the deaf.
Other notable contributions to deaf education: • “Dimitrie Rusticeanu and Ion Cioranescu, assisted by a large number of deaf education specialists, laid the foundaitions of the Romanian Oral method of speech teaching, which rejects exaggerations, accepts innovations and into account the specific features of the Romanian language regarding phonetic structure articulation”. • Ion Cioranescu, inspector at the Ministry of education and headmaster of the Deaf School in bucharest (1927 – 1940), studied in Berlin and published “The ABC Book for the Deaf to Learn Speech, Reading Aloud and Writing” (1932), with an Annex containing a “Guide to Teaching Sounds, Otophony”. • Sevasta Popescu, special education teacher at the School for Deaf Girls in Bucharest supported the French method of teaching, combining the oral aspects with the writing, with a focus on enriching the students vocabulary. • Researchers Lucia Maescu – Caraman and Alexandru Caraman worked in the fields of phonetic acquisition of the language, spoken language acquisition, and the improvement of special education for deaf children. They published an ABC book with an Annex containing images for an easier acquisition of lip reading – a model textbook for the learning of reading and writing, still being used in schools today. • Valuable research work in this context was also carried out by Constantin Pufan, Ilie Stanica, Valer Mare, Dumitru Ciumageanu, George Bacanu, Gh. Manolache, Mariana Popa and others.