The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) urges everyone to recognize and celebrate March 13 – April 15 as National Deaf History Month. This month includes three key moments in American History for the Deaf community: the March 13, 1988 Deaf President Now protest, the April 8, 1864 signing of the Gallaudet University charter by President Abraham Lincoln, and the April 15, 1817 establishment of American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT as the first permanent public school for the deaf.
Each of these seminal events represents significant advancements for deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The establishment of the American School for the Deaf was the beginning of a long proud tradition of schools for the deaf in this country, which continues to this day. Preservation of these schools is of paramount importance to the community. Gallaudet University is a central icon within the community, representing the only university in the world that is solely for deaf and hard of hearing students. March 13 represents the day that the deaf community seized its fate during the Gallaudet University “Deaf President Now” movement when Gallaudet selected its first Deaf President. We declared that never again would we not be allowed to lead ourselves.
In 2006, the American Library Association (ALA) and the NAD announced that March 13 to April 15 is National Deaf History Month, thanks to the efforts of Alice Hagemeyer. The NAD, with her guidance, has consistently encouraged state and local deaf-related organizations to collaborate with local libraries, state governors, county executives and mayors to recognize this month.
“Please join us and celebrate the amazing achievements of our predecessors who advanced our civil, human, and linguistic rights throughout our country’s history during Deaf History Month,” said President Bobbie Beth Scoggins. “The NAD urges the United States government and states as well as local organizations and libraries to officially recognize Deaf History month to bring awareness and appreciation of deaf culture, heritage and American Sign Language to the general public.
The NAD continues to work with Ms. Hagemeyer and the ALA to ensure that there is a Proclamation of National Deaf History Month through the White House and/or the U.S. Congress.