Gallaudet University

by Madeline Huwaldt | October 3, 2018

Gallaudet University was founded in 1864 and is located in Washington D.C and is a federally chartered private school. Originally Gallaudet was a grammar school for deaf and blind children. Gallaudet was the first official school for deaf and hard of hearing people to get a higher education in the world. This university still remains as the only college with programs specifically designed for deaf and hard of hearing students. Officially Gallaudet is a bilingual college because both English and American Sign Language are used for communication all around campus. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was the founder of the first school for deaf students in the United States. Gallaudet University was therefore named to honor Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Edward Miner Gallaudet, the son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, became one of the first superintendents at Gallaudet University.

Congress passed H.R. 806 in 1857 chartering the Colombia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf, Dumb, and the Blind. Congress also decided to pay for tuition for deaf, mute, and blind students who have residence in the District of Columbia. The charter for Gallaudet University was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf, the Dumb, and the Blind became authorized to give students college degrees and the name of the school was changed to National Deaf-Mute College. The following year Congress stopped requiring the school to educate the blind and the name of the school was changed to Colombia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and the Dumb. It was not until 1954 that the name of the college was officially changed to Gallaudet University, even though this had been the name of the collegiate department since 1894.

The first commencement at Gallaudet University was in June of 1869 and there were three men who received diplomas. These diplomas were signed by President Ulysses S. Grant; even now all graduates of the college have diplomas signed by the presiding United States president. Gallaudet has more than 50 Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degree programs. Also more than 95% of the graduates find jobs easily and are employed. There are many academic and bilingual advantages at Gallaudet. Some of the academic advantages include 50% of the faculty being deaf or hard of hearing and many undergraduate research and internship options. One of the benefits of the school being bilingual is that all of the students have direct access to communication in both English and American Sign Language. There is also access to interpreters and real-life captioning in the classes. Finally there is an English Language institute for any students who’s first language is not english or American Sign Language.

In 2015 Gallaudet had the leading American Sign Language bachelor’s program and has many classes in accounting, business, counseling, education, hearing and speech, psychology and social work. There are also opportunities to be involved in athletics and other extracurricular activities including arts, student organizations, and various campus activities. There is about 1,077 undergraduate students and 484 graduate students, whom consist of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing individuals, with 8% of each class being hearing.