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The Ugly Mittens: Punishment of Deaf children for using sign language

It was historically common for Deaf children to be punished for signing by being forced to wear "mittens." 

"For a class of incorrigible sign-makers the teacher made mittens of strong chintz and when a child made a sign one was immediately placed upon his left hand, and for the second sign upon his right, so that signing for the time became almost an impossibility; and the pupil felt so mortified at having to wear the ugly mittens for a whole morning that he soon gave up the practice of signing while in the schoolroom." (Stone, 1910)

Chintz is a "printed multicoloured cotton fabric with a glazed finish, used for curtains and upholstery." It originated in the

"early 17th century (as chints, plural of chint, denoting a stained or painted calico cloth imported from India): from Hindi chīṃṭ ‘spattering, stain'." (Source:



Stone, Elizabeth (March, 1910) "Hints on Discipline," American Annals of the Deaf, pp. 177-182 (6 pages), Published by: Gallaudet University Press, (Retrieved 1/17/2020, JSTOR:


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