The Deaf Academy’s Heritage
Over the course of 2021-23 PaddleBoat Theatre Company and the Deaf Academy have been researching the rich heritage of the school, alongside the wider history of deaf education. Uncovering archives, testimony and historical artifacts, we have pieced together the history of this unique school.
The Deaf Academy opened its doors in 1826 in Exeter, under the name of ‘The West of England Institution for the Deaf and Dumb’. Founded by Charlotte Hippesley Tuckfield, the school has undergone many changes since then.
Timeline of the Deaf Academy
BSL translation of the timeline below.
Adult Residential and Learning Centre
The Post 19 Adult Residential and Learning Centre opened in September 2023 at Long Causeway in Exmouth. This centre has been named Fearnside House. Here we will be offering a range of life and living skills and employability skills to help our young adults thrive and achieve an independent life.
School and College were awarded their best ever grading of ‘Good with Outstanding Features’ at their recent OFSTED inspection. One student described the Deaf Academy as ‘Paradise’.
British Sign Language (BSL) is finally given protection by UK law
Students and staff are delighted that BSL had received formal recognition and protection.
One of our Teaching Assistants, Nikki, was highly commended in the ‘Teaching Assistant of the Year’ category at the TES Awards.
National Lockdown Heros
The Academy was delighted to receive a ‘National Award for Lockdown Heros’ recognising the Academy’s efforts to provide face to face education for all students through out the pandemic.
Move to Exmouth
The Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education moves to Exmouth in September 2020 and is renamed ‘the Deaf Academy’.
Coronavirus hits and schools are shut
The Deaf Academy stays open for many students during lockdown.
International congress of the Deaf apologises
for banning sign language, announcing that it was a ‘Discrimination and violation of human and constitutional rights’.
British Sign Language is recognised as an official language on 18 March
1939 – 1945
World War II
Exeter is heavily bombed in 1942 Baedecker Raids.
The school swimming pool becomes a static water tank in the war effort.
The school is damaged from a 1.30 am bombing on 4 May 1942. A bomb falls across the road and damages all the classrooms. Students are sent home for three months.
to ‘Royal West of England Residential School for the Deaf’ in 1939.
1914 – 1918
World War I
Male teachers at the school leave for war, leaving only female staff.
The school starts collaborating
with other colleges and girls are sent to Bicton College to learn cookery.
The second International Congress of the Deaf in Milan bans sign language
with emphasis on oralism as an learning method. Out of 164 delegates at the conference only one was deaf.
Abraham Lincoln approves the first higher education Institution for deaf students in the world
Gallaudet University is founded in Washington DC.
The School grows with 50 students enrolled
Samuel Heinicke sets up the first deaf school in Germany
His methods focus on oralism – lip reading and speaking rather than using sign language. He’s considered the ‘father of oralism’.
The first school for the deaf opens in the UK
by Thomas Braidwood in Edinburgh with just one pupil.
Charles de L’ Epee opens the first free school for the deaf in Paris.
‘A selection of written archives relating to the Deaf Academy’
We have a selection of written archives relating to the Deaf Academy, as well as the following BSL translations.
Did you attend our school? We would love to hear more.
Thanks to National Lottery Players
This project would not have been possible without Paddleboat Theatre Company, the Heritage Fund and students at the Deaf Academy.