Deaf people in Norway have been organized in a national association since 1918. Before that, there were deaf associations in several cities.
The first deaf association in Norway was founded in Oslo in 1878. Many battles have been fought with the authorities since then. It has often taken a long time before changes have taken place.
When the Norwegian Association of the Deaf was founded in 1918, it happened at the school for the deaf in Trondheim. Deaf teacher Johannes Berge became the leader. In other words, there were close connections between the organization and the schools for the deaf in the beginning.
In the early days, deaf teachers and deaf priests were the leaders of the deaf associations. Eventually, the deaf themselves took over more and more of the positions in the organization.
In 1933, the association got its first deaf chairman in Helmer Moe. Some of the important issues in the Deaf Association's history have been the struggle for the deaf to have the best possible schooling, access to deaf interpreters and access to technical aids. Some issues have been so important to the Deaf Association that they have chosen to gather for demonstrations and strikes.
Sign language, its place in schools for the deaf and in society, has been a constant issue for the Deaf Association since its inception. When the Deaf Association held its first national meeting in the summer of 1920 in Bergen, the place of sign language in the school for the deaf was up for debate. The association believed that there had to be a change in the deaf schools' dismissive attitude to sign language. There was debate. Many deaf people believed that it would be an advantage if instruction in sign language was provided, and that the teachers at the school for the deaf learned to understand and use the children's sign language. The deaf teachers did not agree, and it was their views that went through. It was said that it was okay for the deaf associations to start working for the members to learn to use a common sign language for the whole country, but the deaf teachers believed that sign language should not be used as a language of instruction in deaf schools."
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