Posts Tagged ‘George Veditz’


The Preservation of the Sign Language by George Veditz

October 9, 2017

As early as 1913, American Deaf Veditz espoused on the importance of preserving sign language using film. Though I am a hearing person, it it his thoughts that inspire me in fact to do the same in our country for our Deaf sector, especially since the clamor to recognize Filipino Sign Language as their national sign language is still on-going.

Below is a translation by Carol A. Padden, Professor of the University of California – San Diego of Veditz message taken from the film produced by the National Association of the Deaf, in 1913.

Friends and fellow deaf-mutes:

The French deaf people loved de l’Epee. Every year on the occasion of his birthday, they gather together at banquets and festivities to show their appreciation that this man was born on this earth. They journey to his gravesite in Versailles and place flowers and green wreaths on his grave to show their respect for his memory. They loved him because he was their first teacher. But they loved him more for being the father and inventor of their beautiful sign language.

For the last 33 years, with eyes filled with tears and hearts broken, the French deaf people have watched this beautiful language of signs snatched away from their schools.

For the last 33 years, they have strived and fought for the restitution of signs in the schools but for 33 years their teachers have cast them aside and refused to listen to their pleas. But their teachers would much rather listen to the worthless, cruel-hearted demands of people that think they know all about educating the deaf but know nothing about their thoughts and souls, their feelings, desires and needs.

It is like this in Germany also. The German deaf people and the French deaf people look up at us American deaf people with eyes of jealousy. They look upon us Americans as a jailed man chained at the legs might look upon a man free to wander at will. They freely admit that the American deaf people are superior to them in matters of intelligence and spirituality, in their success in the world, in happiness. And they admit that this superiority can be credited to – what? To one thing, that we permit the use of signs in our schools.

The French deaf people base their inferiority on one thing, the fact oralism must be taught in their schools. They have eliminated fingerspelling; they have eliminated signs. But we American deaf are rapidly approaching some bad times for our schools. False prophets are now appearing with news to the people that our American means of teaching the deaf are all wrong. These men have tried to educate people and make people believe that the oral method is really the one best means of educating the deaf.

But we American deaf know, the French deaf know, the German deaf know that in truth, the oral method is the worst. Our beautiful sign language is now beginning to show the results of their attempts. They have tried to banish signs from the schoolroom, from the churches and from the earth. Yes, they have tried, so our sign language is deteriorating. From olden years, the masters of this sign language, the Peets, the Dudleys, the Elys, the Ballards, are rapidly disappearing. And we, in past years, loved these men. They had a precise command of sign language. They could communicate to us using only signs and we could understand them.

But fortunately, we have several masters of our sign language still with us. Edward Miner Gallaudet learned this sign language from his father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. There are several others, like Dr. John B. Hotchkiss, Dr. Edward Allen Fay, Robert P. MacGregor who are still with us. And we want to preserve the signs as these men now use them, to keep and pass on to coming generations. There are many men now alive who have learned their signs from men like these. Many have tried to preserve and pass on their signs. But there is one known means of passing this on, through the use of moving picture films.

Indeed, our National Association of the Deaf has raised a fund of $5000 for this purpose. We have made a number of films. We have films of Edward Miner Gallaudet, of Edward Allen Fay, of John B. Hotchkiss and Robert MacGregor and many others. I regret that we do not have $20,000, for we could have used it all. If we had this amount of money, we could have performances in sign language, sermons in sign language, lectures in sign language. And not only would we American deaf enjoy the benefits of this, but no — deaf people in Germany, in England, in France, in Italy would also see these moving picture films. Fifty years from now, these moving picture films will be priceless.

“A new race of pharaohs that knew not Joseph” are taking over the land and many of our American schools. They do not understand signs for they cannot sign. They proclaim that signs are worthless and of no help to the deaf. Enemies of the sign language, they are enemies of the true welfare of the deaf. As long as we have deaf people on earth, we will have signs. It is my hope that we all will love and guard our beautiful sign language as the noblest gift God has given to deaf people.



COMING SOON! The First-Ever Deaf Interpretation of “The True Decalogue” [1898] in the First Film Music Scored by a Filipino Person with Autism

August 13, 2015
Tum at Work

Thristan Mendoza at Work

A Filipino Person with Autism [PWA] music scored a film. A first in Philippine film history? Thristan Mendoza, twice exceptional PWA did his first-ever music scoring on APOLINARIO MABINI: THE SUBLIME PARALYTIC, a digital documentary on the life of Mabini, the First Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Chief Adviser of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the First Philippine Republic. Despite the limitations of the music software he used, and perhaps the frustrations he might have felt when the instruments he wanted and needed were not provided by the software, Thristan, fondly called Tumtum created refreshing compositions that enhanced the mood and enlivened the historical photographs used, aided by the sound effects expertise of sound designer Bert De Santos. Tumtum graduated from the UP College of Music, major in percussion.

On the other hand, one of Mabini’s most famous writings, “El Verdadero Decalogo / The True Decalogue” [1898] was interpreted for the first time in Filipino Sign Language [FSL] by the SILENT STEPS, an All-Deaf Performing group of DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies [SDEAS].


The SILENT STEPS choreographed by Myra Medrana [Deaf]

Surely, the first in Philippine language history! There are hundreds of languages and dialects in the Philippines, sadly, Filipino Sign Language [FSL], the natural and national sign language of Deaf Filipinos is still NOT officially recognized by the Philippine government.

The film is not only our vehicle to show FSL’s beauty. It will help preserve Deaf language and culture. FSL is the rightful language of Deaf Filipinos in our country. It is important to preserve it. George W. Veditz of the National Association of the Deaf in the U.S. who initiated the preservation of the American Sign Language between 1910-1920 was the one who called deaf people “People of the eye, first, last and all the time.” As early, he realized that the medium of film was the perfect vehicle for preserving sign language. With pendling legislations on the passage of FSL Bill, FSL should actively be promoted to prove that it is being used and preferred by Deaf Filipinos. Respect and its recognition by the government is a must.

Largely interpreted in FSL, APOLINARIO MABINI: THE SUBLIME PARALYTIC is narrated and captioned in English. Interviews in Filipino language are also interpreted and subtitled in English.

A special preview for DFA personnel and some PWD leaders will be held tomorrow at the Department of Foreign Affairs as part of their post-celebration of the National Disability Prevention Week.

Premiere Showing on August 27, 2015 at DLS-CSB ARG Theater, 4 pm.

For inquiries, contact: DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies [SDEAS]
Email: / Tel: 230-5100 local 1661 / Cel: 09178698231
For ticket reservations, click:

To have a peek at some of the scenes in the docu to see the Silent Steps and to listen to Tum’s music sample composition, watch the film excerpts below:


Adiós to DEWS3 2011 or “ADEWS!!! in Short”

October 1, 2011

DEWS3 or the 3rd Deaf Education Weekend Seminar ended with the showing of ULTIMO ADIOS in Filipino Sign Language at Benitez Theater in UP College of Education. The invitation to end a Deaf seminar with my work was really quite a surprise for me then. But considering the fact that Filipino Sign Language was the language I used in the film and one of the issues tackled was respect of linguistic human rights — respect and recognition of FSL in case of Deaf Filipinos — swak talaga ang Ultimo. Some of my aims in making that film as I’ve told them were: 1) To tell Deped authorities that FSL exists; in 2006 a Deped authority when interviewed told me that there is no FSL; 2) I have the ulterior motive of “seducing” hearing persons to study FSL by exposing them to the beauty of FSL; 3) to help preserve FSL. Like what George Veditz did 100 years ago, using the video format in our times should be maximized I personally believe to continue the documentation of FSL so there will be never be excuse in the future that it never existed. It is extinct.

I came in late – after 10 am I think – so I didn’t know what actually caused the delay. I was scheduled at 11.45 but I finally managed to show the film at nearly 1 p.m. By that time, the audience must have been hungry already, myself included. It was a well attended affair nevertheless. I saw some old friends and faces. Aldrin Gabriel, our Rizal in two of the five films that I am doing was present.

Even came to fetch me. I went to attend the Alumni Homecoming of Novaliches Academy now Metro Manila College, the oldest institution in Novaliches that my brother in law Ka Mentong founded, and later managed by my eldest sister, Ligaya until her death in 2008. It was festive and the attendees were all visibly happy and excited. What caught my attention was an old man on a wheelchair as he reminded me of my brother Gani. In the beginning, a few bothered to greet the man. I took his photo during that moment. Later, when a tribute was read about him and he was introduced, the Novaleños, they called themselves swarmed to him — he was NA’s principal from 1967-80s. Obviously, they did not recognize him when they first saw the man. No one would miss seeing him as he was seated just below the platform. He was nearly 90 years old. I was happy to later see him enjoying posing for souvenir photos with his former students. It must have been a very happy moment for him. If I remember it correctly, his name is Mr. Salinas. I also noticed the presence of several councilors – Alfred Vargas, Candy Medina, a certain Hipolito and a Congressman. Is the election coming I thought… but at least I saw young politicians — with a lot of vigor I hope to work for the betterment of their community.


Preservation of Sign Language

July 21, 2011

Deaf people are facing not a theory but a condition, for they are first, last, and all the time the people of the eye.” – Veditz, 1910

Here’s an interesting observation made about the Deaf Rochester Film Festival 2011 by PDurr, a professor, advocate, playwright, artist, filmmaker, friend, partner, and mom.

Deaf Rochester Film Festival

In part, she writes-

‘It was grand because FILM is da medium for Deaf folks.  No no no question about it.  it is as Veditz said:

“We possess and jealously guard a language different and apart from any other in common use – a language which nevertheless is precisely what all-wise Mother Nature designed for the people of the eye, a language with no fixed form or literature in the past, but which we are now striving to fix and give a distinct liter…ature of its own by means of the moving picture film.” George Veditz 1910

Soo it was no surprise when Veditz was the most special featured guest at the fest.

Yep – his “Preservation of Sign Language” [click to watch] classic film was featured and highlighted and celebrated at DRFF 2011….

It is interesting to note that …‘The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) film “Preservation of Sign Language” by George W. Veditz was selected to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress along with other films such as “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”, “All the President’s Men”, “Malcolm X”, and “Saturday Night Fever”.

“Preservation of Sign Language” was part of a collection of films produced by the motion picture committee of the NAD specifically to preserve early American Sign Language on film from 1910 through 1920. The NAD at that time was concerned that “pure” sign language might disappear under the pressures of oralism, and made these films so that future generations might see master signers of the past. In 1965, the NAD transferred these films to the Gallaudet University Archives for preservation and to make them more available to the public. [For more, please click historic-nad-film-selected-preservation-library-congress]


Deaf people are “People of the eye, first, last and all the time”

October 2, 2010

George W. Veditz who called deaf people “People of the eye, first, last and all the time” realized that the medium of film was the perfect vehicle for preserving sign language. He reasoned that signs could not accurately be portrayed three dimensionally through drawings, no matter how detailed, whereas film would show the exact movement, context, beauty and meaning.

In an effort to make sure sign language in its purest form would be preserved for posterity, Veditz and his colleagues spearheaded a campaign to raise $5,000.00 to fund the National Association of the Deaf Motion Picture Project that would film eminent deaf and hearing speakers using sign language between 1910-1920.

Read about George W. Veditz and the National Association of the Deaf Motion Picture Project by clicking the URL of the original source below:


Trivia notes:

The earliest known Deaf film is entitled Deaf mute girl reciting “Star spangled banner” produced by American Mutoscope and Biograph company in 1902 but the oldest known generally available film showing sign language is the 1910 film of Edward Miner Gallaudet telling, in sign language, about The Lorna Doone country of Devonshire, England and produced by the National Association of the Deaf.  (To read the full article, click Gallaudet University’s site  Oldest_Deaf_Films.html+Deaf+films&cd=14&hl=tl&ct=clnk&gl=ph&client=firefox-a)

To watch early photos of Gallaudet U and to see how Edward Gallaudet looked like, click below: