This is really kind of a part two to a part one: Deaf and Dumb Institution, Halifax.
Lizzie Bentley, my GG grandmother, was not born deaf. Family lore says she lost her hearing due to an accident at the age of three, which is not unheard of. It is, however, more likely that she had an illness; at the time, Scarlet fever was the leading cause of deafness other than heredity. Of course, there was still a lot of speculation in the latter part of the 19th century, most of it rather unflattering to the families: poverty, negligence, inbreeding, and damp and ill-ventilated buildings were all suggested causes. Scaring a pregnant woman, at least, was no longer thought to be an issue.
At any rate, Lizzie could hear and speak at birth, and then, suddenly, she could not hear. Luckily, the Deaf and Dumb Institution in Halifax--about sixty miles away--opened when she was seven. She began attending the school when she was eleven and would stay for six years, graduating in 1867. (Her future husband, Robert Tupper, attended from 1857 until 1863, so they probably met at the school in 1861, when Lizzie arrived. She was eleven and he was twenty-four. Thank goodness they didn't marry for another twelve years.)
The Deaf and Dumb Institution in Halifax was, by necessity, a boarding school. It took in students from all over the Maritime provinces and even a few from the US. By the time Lizzie attended, they averaged forty students a year. There were three teachers--including the principal--and, therefore, three classes. This put a broad range of students in each class and made teaching difficult.
The principal of the school at the time was J. Scott Hutton. Fortunately, he wrote a lot of papers, textbooks, and articles and generally communicated what he was up to to whomever would listen. We therefore know that, when Lizzie attened his school, Hutton was not a fan of lip-reading. Just after Lizzie graduated, Hutton wrote:
"With the antique and obsolescent method of articulation and lip-reading, which some earnest but mistaken friends of the deaf and dumb, are now laboring so energetically to revive and extend, we confess to have little sympathy."*
Hutton goes on to explain that he doesn't believe audible speech and lip-reading are attainable for most students. Well, attainable or not, it seems unlikely that Lizzie and Robert would have learned it at Hutton's school. Instead, they would have been taught to to read and write--"the principal source of knowledge and the grand instrument of communication"*--and to use sign language. They learned Natural Signs (basically, if I understand it correctly, acting out things as well as you can so that anyone could understand them) as and the one-handed and two-handed alphabet.
Once communication was established, a general education of history, geography, and whatnot could begin. The curriculumn was designed and honed over the years, and in the 1870s Hutton published a series of textbooks, several of which are available online at Kobo. I particularly like the language lesson book, which is peppered with little notes to the student that vary from the friendly, "Good morning! How do you do?" to the stern, "Be quiet. Sit in your seat." and the rather questionable, "Don't be inquisitive." Humph.
*"Deaf-Mute Education..." pg 75.
J. Scott Hutton, "Deaf-Mute Education in the British Maritime Provinces," American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 14 (Raleigh, N. C.: Press of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind), pg 65-82.
George Hutton, "Practicability and Advantages of Writing and Printing Natural Signs," American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 14 (Raleigh, N. C.: Press of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind), pg 157.
J. Scott Hutton, Language Lessons for the Deaf and Dumb (Halifax, N. S.: The Pupils at the Institution Press, 1878).