National Deaf History Month


APRIL: Deaf History Month

Deaf History Month takes place in April every year. Although National Dead History Month is not a federally recognized holiday, it’s a time to raise awareness about the deaf community and their struggles in our society. The month also focuses on honoring the immense contributions of deaf individuals and the deaf community to our country. During this month, we also get to learn more about the ongoing advocacy work many organizations undertake to make life easier and more inclusive for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

Deaf History Month is an awareness month for the deaf and hard-of-hearing persons in the U.S. On March 13, 1988, the ‘Deaf President Now’ — also known as the DPN Movement — successfully campaigned for the appointment of a deaf president at Gallaudet University. Dr. I. King Jordan subsequently became Gallaudet University’s first deaf president. On April 8, 1864, America’s only higher education institution for deaf and hard-of-hearing students Gallaudet University was founded, following President Abraham Lincoln’s assent of the charter which established the prestigious college. The university is named after notable educator and minister, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, who pioneered research and advocacy for an improved educational system for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the U.S. Lastly, American School for the Deaf (ASD) in West Hartford, Connecticut — the first permanent public school for the deaf and hard-of-hearing — was founded on April 15, 1817.

The celebration of the National Deaf History Month is traced to two deaf employees at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington D.C. who taught their colleagues sign language on March 13, 1996. This event spurred the library management led by the deaf librarian, Alice Hagemeyer — who also initiated Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action (FOLDA) — to create the Deaf Awareness Week in 1997. In 2006, the American Library Association (ALA) and National Association of the Deaf (NAD) designated March 13 to April 15 of every year as Deaf History Month and a month-long nationwide event. Since then, both advocacy organizations have continued to clamor for a federal proclamation of National Deaf History Month by the White House and/or Congress. In 2022, NAD changed Deaf History Month to the full month of April.


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