Student Papers

James Coulter

ASL Grade 11

Research Paper

20 July 2021

Thomas Gallaudet: Creator Of ASL (Not Sign Language)

Sign language is a globally known type of language, but how did it get to us? American Sign Language is used by deaf people across the United States and was introduced by an American educator, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. He invented American Sign Language (not sign language period, sign language was made by Charles Michel de l’Eppe). Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet led a fascinating and successful life.

Thomas Gallaudet was an intelligent and successful fellow even at a young age. At the age of fifteen, he enrolled at Yale University, one of the most well-known universities across the US. During his time at Yale, he conducted many studies. Some of which include theology, trading, law, etc. Thomas was gifted in lots of categories and showed promise even when he was a boy.


Though he did not create sign language, he made his own version labeled American Sign Language. Being inspired by the French sign language, some signs were placed into the American version. Some of these signs include most number signs and letters of the alphabet. Thanks to his own experiences with deaf individuals, including his encounter with Alice Cogswell, a young deaf woman, he was inspired to create ASL. Of course, Thomas created this language to help deaf Americans and give them their own way of communication. Thomas, with the help of the French Sign Language, created a new language for the deaf people in America.

Not only did he create ASL, but he’s also accomplished many other things. He built schools for the deaf. With the help of a French staff member of the Institut Royal des Sourds-Muets, Laurent Clerc, they created the first deaf American school, American School for the Deaf, in 1817. He was also married to Sophie Fowler. He had eight children, including Edward Gallaudet, who traveled to Washington D.C. to run his school for the deaf. Not only did Thomas lead a successful early life, but he also earned himself a great life later on.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet led a fascinating and successful life. He entered Yale University at the age of 15 and graduated with flying colors. He created American Sign Language to help those who are deaf. He even created education systems for the deaf to help them learn and grow. A good man for a good language.


Does Not, Say. “Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.” Gallaudet University, 12 Jan. 2021,


The Editors, Of Britannica. “Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 20 July 1998,


Enders, Katalin. “Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.” Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet | Learning to Give, 2n.d.,

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