Yes. During his lifetime, Bell was a fierce and vocal advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing. As the son and husband of a deaf person and a teacher of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, Bell spent his entire life exploring the endless potential of hearing-impaired individuals.
Bell would likely be delighted with the wide recognition of the rights of deaf people with the growing use of American Sign Language in public forums, and the growth in ASL, which is much more sophisticated now that it was in Bell’s time a century ago.
Bell was a progressive thinker and scientific visionary who sought to fully integrate deaf people with the larger society. On the occasion of his death in 1922, the Journal of the National Education Association wrote “In 1884 Dr. Bell laid before the Chicago Board of Education the principle that every effort should be made in the training of deaf children to have them associate with the hearing children. He furthermore suggested that a feasible plan would be to provide a separate room and special teachers for people who are deaf or hard of hearing children in the same building with hearing children. ‘Too visionary’ was the verdict in 1884; in 1916 the school was built and has since served as a model for the idea it embodies.”
Today most children who are deaf or hard of hearing who use listening and spoken language are successfully mainstreamed into regular education classrooms. We now understand that we hear with our brain and our ears provide access to sound.
It is likely Bell would be enormously pleased with today’s technology which allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to hear spoken language. Bell would indeed be a strong advocate for modern technology and intervention methods including newborn screening, early diagnosis, early access to modern hearing aids and/or cochlear implants, all of which have dramatically changed outcomes for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and hard of hearing.
Bell’s vision has been carried forward by the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Washington, D.C., which works globally to encourage people who are deaf and hard of hearing to listen and speak. The organization also provides professional support and teacher certification.