This annual event began in the first full week of December 1974. It was then called Deaf Awareness Week. The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library in Washington, DC, first launched it and was proclaimed by what we called today, D.C. Mayor.
Today the public globally observe the two International Days during the week as we in America also celebrate birthday anniversaries of two first visionary leaders in the field of American deaf education, Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Clerc (Dec 26, 1785 – July 18 1869) and Gallaudet (Dec 10, 1787 – Sept 10, 1851)
illustrations by Ruth Peterson
Indigenous Peoples’ Day
The US President Joseph R. Biden Jr just proclaimed October 11, 2021 as Indigenous People's Day. He encouraged everyone to celebrate it annually recognizing Indigenous communities and cultures that make up our great nation.
What is the Sign for indigenous people?
Indigenous people used Indian sign language for centuries. In 1816, Laurent Clerc brought from Paris to Hartford, CT the French sign system later morphed native sign languages. The result: American Sign Language.
International Days Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations General Assembly
December 3. International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Since 1992.
December 10. Human Rights Day, Since 1948
Deaf History: District of Columbia
The District of Columbia Department on Disability Services (DDS) is committed to providing high quality services that enable people with disabilities to lead meaningful and productive lives as vital members of communities in every neighborhood in the D.C. https:/dds.dc.gov/page/dds-who-we-are
The District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) was created by an act of Congress in 1896-28 years after the 16th US President Lincoln signed the charter on April 8, 1864, enabling the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind (now Gallaudet University) to confer college degrees.
In late March 1976, the DCPL created a position, the first of its kind in the world, Librarian for the Deaf. The rest is history.
Celebrating Deaf History Month
March 13 - April 15, 2020
As many people know, March 13th to April 15th marks Deaf History Month. These dates represent some key moments in Deaf history. These dates also continue to inspire and impact the Deaf community today.
First, March 13th was the date of the first-ever Deaf civil rights victory that drew global attention. This happened in 1988 and it was called Deaf President Now (DPN). In many ways, DPN led to the eventual passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act two years later on July 26th, 1990. DPN showcased the activism of the Deaf community as we fought for recognition.
A second date that falls into Deaf History Month is April 8th. On April 8th, 1864, the charter for the first-ever higher education institution for the deaf in the world, Gallaudet University, was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. As a result of this, many Gallaudet alumni and supporters made a difference in the United States and globally.
The third date for the month, and the conclusion date of Deaf History Month, April 15th brought about the opening of the first-ever state school for the Deaf in the United States. On April 15th, 1817, the American School for the Deaf opened in Hartford, CT. It introduced American Sign Language (ASL) in the classroom and made Deaf pupils bilingual in ASL and written English.
We hope you enjoy Deaf History Month, and we hope you enjoyed learning these bits of information! If you would like to know more about Deaf History Month and other deaf cultural annual events, please contact us!