In American Deaf History, the year 1864 holds significant importance. It was in this year that the first-ever college for deaf students, Gallaudet University, was established. The establishment of Gallaudet University marked a pivotal moment in the progress of deaf education and the recognition of American Sign Language (ASL) as a legitimate form of communication.
The Importance of Education for the Deaf
Before the establishment of Gallaudet University, it was believed that deaf individuals were unable to learn and therefore had limited opportunities to succeed in life. Many were ostracized from society and were not even given access to basic education.
This belief was challenged by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, who founded the first school for the deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817. This school paved the way for future institutions that aimed to provide educational opportunities for deaf individuals.
The Establishment of Gallaudet University
In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed a charter that established Gallaudet University as a college dedicated to providing higher education opportunities for deaf students. The university was named after Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and his son Edward Miner Gallaudet who continued his father’s work in promoting education for the deaf.
The establishment of Gallaudet University marked a significant shift towards recognizing and valuing ASL as a legitimate form of communication. Prior to this, many educators believed that signing would impede speech development in deaf children and discouraged its use. However, at Gallaudet University, ASL was recognized as an essential tool for communication and learning.
Impact on Deaf Culture
The establishment of Gallaudet University not only provided educational opportunities but also played an essential role in fostering a sense of community among deaf individuals. The university provided a safe space where students could communicate freely using ASL without fear of judgement or discrimination.
Moreover, Gallaudet University became a hub for deaf culture and activism. It was here that the first-ever National Association of the Deaf (NAD) was established in 1880, which aimed to protect the rights of deaf individuals and promote their inclusion in society.
In conclusion, the year 1864 marked a significant moment in American Deaf History with the establishment of Gallaudet University. This institution paved the way for future educational opportunities and recognition of ASL as a legitimate form of communication.
It also played an essential role in fostering a sense of community among deaf individuals and promoting advocacy for their rights. Today, Gallaudet University remains an important institution in promoting education and advocacy for deaf culture.