In our stream-line schools today in America we virtually do not learn anything of deaf history. We learn of wars and slavery and discoveries, but not about deaf people. As a hearing person, I think the only deaf person I had ever heard of in school was Helen Keller. Her story was fascinating to me. But now I know that the deaf culture has a much more rich and fascinating history.
Along with Helen Keller, I think that Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet will have to be my pick for favorite person in deaf history. He was open-minded enough to recognize the intelligence in a child who could not hear or speak. He went so far as to travel to another country to learn how to best educate the deaf. Establishing the first free public school for the deaf, along with Laurent Clerc, is an amazing thing!
He helped shape ASL as it is today by bringing signs from England and merging them with signs that deaf people were already using in their homes. His sons carried on his name and went on to establish the first college for the deaf, which is now the prestigious Gallaudet University. It is always an amazing thing to be an example to your children and they too carry on to do great things.
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