Deaf education in America as we know it today would be shaped differently if Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet from Hartford had not met Laurent Clerc in Brighton, England in 1815.
Clerc was a gifted deaf teacher from Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris (INJS), the famous “signing” public school founded in the 1760s by Abbé Charles-Michel de l'Épée.
This is a story most Americans may not know yet but in only two years in 1817, after Clerc and Gallaudet met in Europe, the first-ever public (free) school for the deaf opened in Hartford, CT.
Horace Mann and Samuel Gridley Howe, both school educators, also had the same interest in public (free) school for the “normal” and the blind students so they later asked for tips from Clerc and Gallaudet.
If you visit the Library of Congress, Hall of Education today, you would see Thomas H. Gallaudet, Horace Mann and Samuel G. Howe were honored as the first American educators. What about Laurent Clerc? Our forgotten deaf hero!
A Reminder for librarians, educators, and library friends!
Do not forget March 13 – April 15
National Deaf History Month, the brainchild of librarian Alice L. Hagemeyer. Started in 1997, it commemorates three important deaf cultural dates in the history of America that are related to the education of deaf people (April 8, 1864, and April 15, 1817) and deaf civil rights (March 13, 1988). In 2006, the National Association of the Deaf and the American Library Association endorsed the month.
Please plan ahead
International Day of Sign Languages as proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2018. In 1958, the first International Day of the Deaf was held the last Sunday of September; it was later extended to a full week, becoming International Week of the Deaf (IWDeaf) World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) was founded on September 23, 1951
December 3 – 10
Clerc-Gallaudet Week, the brainchild of librarian Alice L. Hagemeyer. In 1974, the D.C. Public Library, in cooperation with the National Association of the Deaf and the DC deaf community, first designated Deaf Awareness Week. This was followed by name changes to Deaf Action Week and then Deaf Heritage Week. Today, this week begins with Dec. 3 as International Day of People with Disabilities (est. 1992) ending Dec. 10 as International Day of Human Rights (est. 1948) as proclaimed by the United Nations.
Alice L. Hagemeyer, President
Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action.