One of the most interesting things I learned while looking up more about ASL this week was that March 13- April 15 is Deaf History Month.
Deaf History Month begins on the date in 1988 that Gallaudet University chose its first Deaf university president in response to student protests. Since Gallaudet is the world’s only university specifically for the Deaf, students wanted to have a Deaf rather than a hearing administrator. The movement, known as Deaf President Now, succeeded in securing the appointment of I. King Jordan, Gallaudet’s first Deaf president.
Another important event of Deaf History Month is April 8, 1864, the date that President Abraham Lincoln signed the school charter of Gallaudet University itself in response to a letter from the school’s administration. This school was the first to offer higher education specifically to the Deaf community, and continues to be known for its academics today.
Closing the month is April 15, 1817, when the American School for the Deaf, which was the first permanent Deaf public school, was formed in Hartford, Connecticut.
Deaf History Month is promoted by the Deaf community to raise awareness of the issues and culture of the community in the majority hearing culture. Deaf people often organize community-wide events to introduce others to their language and way of life.
I am looking forward to finding out more about Deaf history and culture not only during this month, but all year long as I continue to study ASL and the vibrant culture it is part of.