Yesterday, I shared information from the 1859 Annual Report of the AADD about help given to ‘H.L’ who was found work in Hart’s Gas fitting works.
The following year, 1860, also provides more information about H.L. It appears that the position at Hart’s didn’t work out, and so we find him being relocated at Heal and Son’s.Heal and Son’s was (still is!) a furniture manufacturers, and it is likely that this provided H.L. with a wider range of jobs to do. Many of the workshop-type skills taught to young deaf people in schools in France and the US were furniture-based, and blindness wasn’t a great obstacle; cushion stuffing and chair-seat weaving were often touted as blind-specific jobs.
It’s revealing that it’s hard to get any information about Heal’s employment of Deaf people on the Internet. Any search immediately links ‘heal’ with ‘deaf’ and brings up religious healing ministries. Of course that, in itself, speaks volumes about the legacy of religious/deaf connections…
To get more specific information on whether Heal was a particularly welcoming employer to disabled people, we might actually have to go to Heal’s archive at the Victoria and Albert museum in London.