(Santa Ana, CA)
In learning about the history of American Sign Language, it is hard to pick a favorite historical figure related to deaf history.
I have always been interested in ASL and the deaf community, and it wasn’t until recently that I decided to act upon this life-long passion. I also love history, and since this is an American Sign Language class, and before taking it I had heard of Gallaudet University, I find myself drawn to Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.
I would like to say that my favorite is Abbe de L’Epee for pioneering deaf education, but Gallaudet did the same for America. His passion to teach and ability to see the need to help the deaf in America communicate like the deaf in Europe was a worthy endeavor.
I admire his drive to seek out the best methods and willingness to learn. In his day it would not have been a quick trip or cheap thing to travel to Europe, study, and come back to America to start a whole new school. His ability to be able to see the needs of our country by enlisting the help of Laurent Clerc is also admirable.
I also like that he was open-minded enough to take existing sign language of the native people to incorporate into ASL as opposed to just teaching the children what he was taught in Europe.
Finally, Gallaudet inspired his son to carry on in his work. This is probably what I like the most, because it really shows that he was a great leader and educator.