A cultural change in the Italian deaf mute education: the oral method promoted by don Giulio Tarra (1832-1889)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In June 1855 the catholic young priest Giulio Tarra became the first director of the Pious Institute for poor country deaf mute of Milan. After a period of coexistence between the oral and the sign method, in 1870 Tarra established the first one as the only system to be used in the in Pious Institute. He was firmly convinced that teaching «words with words» could stimulate the social inclusion of deaf mute. At the famous International Congress on Education of the Deaf (Milan, 1880) Tarra strongly defended the superiority of the spoken word over the signed word. His speeches were appreciated by the European institutors present at the Congress, who declared that oral method had to be absolutely preferred. Even if the Congress’ deliberations were not fully applied by all the Italian deaf mutes institutions, at least until the end of the nineteenth century, Tarra’s contribution was crucial. The paper, summarizing the results of an archival and bibliographical research, highlights his work: from one side, the priest’s struggle in favor of the oral method permitted a major attention towards the deaf mute social integration; but on the other side, his opposition to the sign language intensified the distance between the defenders of the two methods, creating a permanent caesura in the Italian deaf mute culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCulture and education. ISCHE 37. Abstracts Books
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventCulture and education. ISCHE 37 - Istanbul
Duration: 24 Jun 201527 Jun 2015


ConferenceCulture and education. ISCHE 37


  • Deaf-mute education
  • Giulio Tarra


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