By: Alex Maj (01/27/17)
In my opinion the most influential historical figure to American Sign Language is Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. He was the first person in America that believed deaf people needed to be heard and decided to start teach. His first student was a 9 year old girls, the daughter of his neighbor. Mr. Gallaudet realized the potential in this little girl but could see that his teaching methods were not very effective. He had heard that in Europe there was a strong education system established there for the deaf, he turned to the community to raise money so he could travel to Europe and learn how to teach the deaf. While over in Europe Mr. Gallaudet met Abbé de l’Épée also known as the “Father of the Deaf” for the 21 schools he established. Gallaudet learned how to use sigh language during his trip and returned to America accompanied by one of the best teachers in Europe, Laurent Clerc. They created the first deaf school in the United Stated which is known as the American School for the Deaf which was established in Hartford Connecticut 1817. This was a huge step for the Deaf Community in the United Stated before this there was no where for deaf people to learn. The school was very successful deaf student from all over the country attended bringing their own sign from home which all contributed to the development of the firs version of American Sign Language. Gallaudet is my favorite person because without this contribution and dedication to creating American Sign Language it would of taken years before someone else took the risk of creating a deaf school. It is also important to not the Gallaudet also inspired a the next generation in his son, Edward Miner Gallaudet who took after his father as an advocate for the deaf by creating the first College for the Deaf.