Bebian, Roch-Ambroise Auguste

School founder
Hearing. Born to French parents at Pointe-a-Pitre in the French colony of Guadaloupe. He was sent to Paris to be educated, staying at the National Institute for the Deaf with the abbe Sicard, who was a friend of his parents, while he (Bebian) attended the Lycee Charlemagne, a hearing academy. Made friends with the deaf pupils and learned their sign language. Upon graduation from the Lycee, became an instructor at the Institute. Attempted to reform the Institute, advocating the restoration of "natural" sign language as the method of instruction and opposing "methodical" sign language and the gradual move towards oralism. Worked at that school briefly before being fired; continued his campaign, outside the school, for the use of natural signs and for greater deaf representation and responsibilities in the faculty and administration. Established a competing private school in Paris in 1826, then accepted a position as director of a school in Rouen in 1834. Problems forced him to abandon that position; he returned to Guadaloupe in 1836, where he died 3 years later after establishing yet another school for the deaf there. His published Essai sur les Sourds-Muets et sur le Language Naturel (1817) appears in a modern English translation, Essay on the Deaf and Natural Language, in The Deaf Experience: Classics in Language and Education (1984), p.127-160.
Looking Back, p.135-142; The Conquest of Deafness, p.93-94.
4 August 1789-24 February1839