Wednesday, March 13, 2013

National Deaf History Month (March 13 - April 15)

     National Deaf History Month began when two employees at the Martin Luther King Jr library in DC began teaching their colleagues sign language. These lessons evolved into Deaf Awareness Week, which was celebrated by the library. In 1996 the National Association of the Deaf wanted the week to become a full month, and in 1997 Deaf Awareness Week became National Deaf History Month. 

Important dates in National Deaf History Month:
     National Deaf History Month begins on March 13th in order to commemorate the election of Gallaudet University's first deaf president in 1988. NDHM goes through the date April 8th because on this date in the year 1864 President Lincoln signed a charter that allowed deaf students to receive degrees. On April 15th, 1817 the first permanent school for the deaf was established in Hartford, CT.

     Each of these events represent advancements for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Gallaudet University is a central icon within the deaf community, it is the only university in the world that is solely for deaf and hard of hearing students. What the students had to do in order to get a deaf president was just as inspiring as the school itself: the students protested in for their right to a deaf president. Students camped out on the Gallaudet campuses, and the classes stopped. This protest lasted for eleven days and 130 students were arrested before they were granted their wishes. "Deaf Power" was expressed throughout Gallaudet. 
     The American School for the Deaf was the first permanent school for the deaf established in the Western Hemisphere.
     The charter that President Lincoln signed, allowing deaf students to receive degrees, was called the Enabling Act. 

Statement from the US congress

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