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Martha's Vineyard Research Paper

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Martha's Vineyard Research Paper
Martha’s Vineyard is a small island five miles off the southeastern shore of Massachusetts settled in the mid to late 17th century. For nearly 300 years, from the early eighteenth century to the mid twentieth century, it was home to a remarkably high percentage of deaf Americans who developed their own sign language, Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language. This isolated island allowed sign language to flourish beyond the deaf community, dissolving barriers between deaf and hearing prevalent in the rest of the world.
Deafness first came to Martha’s Vineyard with the Puritans from Weald, a region in the British county of Kent. One of the first Puritan communities to make the journey to the New World in the early seventeenth century was the congregation
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Of Lambert’s seven children, two were born deaf and are the first known cases of congenital deafness on the island. (Banks, 1911) The isolation on the island coupled with heavy intermarrying led this recessive gene to be expressed at a much higher rate. In 19th-century America, when the Martha’s Vineyard's deaf population peaked, the instance of hereditary deafness in United States average was one deaf person in 5,728, while on Martha's Vineyard it was one in 155. In the town of Chilmark, which had the highest concentration of deaf people on the island, the average was one in 25; in a section of Chilmark called Squibnocket, as much one in 4 was deaf. (Groce, …show more content…
An integral part of life on this island, both deaf and hearing people communicated using MVSL. As one reporter from an issue of the 1895 explained, “The spoken language and the sign language [is] so mingled in the conversation that you pass from one to the other, or use both at once, almost unconsciously.” (Boston Sunday Herald, 1895) One reason sign language was so prevalent is due to the hereditary nature of deafness on Martha’s Vineyard meaning that having both deaf and hearing family members was

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