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Formation of a Community
Westward expansion, industrial growth, new transportation systems, and increased government, church, and individual support of public education in the 1800s made it possible to establish schools for deaf children throughout the nation.
Deaf children attended residential schools and often lived at the “asylum” many months of the year. Schools became the place where children and adults formed a Deaf community, shared a visual language and common experiences.
In addition to providing deaf people with the opportunity to attend college, prepare for professional work, and assume leadership roles, Gallaudet University contributed to the building of a stronger national Deaf Community.
Laurent Clerc arrived in Hartford in 1816 and brought with him the sign language of Paris, a city with a large Deaf community. He taught this visually sophisticated language to Gallaudet and other teachers.
Deaf students needed a place of their own, but the first permanent school for deaf children didn't open until 1817 in Hartford, Connecticut.
The university's founder - Thomas Gallaudet, a congregational minister - shouldered the responsibility of bringing gospel to everyone and learned signed langauge in order to spread God's Word.
Sports, cheerleading, literary clubs, scouting, theatrical shows, holiday parties, and many other activities filled the after school hours of deaf students.
Deaf students, like most hearing students, learned reading, writing, mathematics, and science in the classroom. Teachers also discussed local and national news. For many students, teachers were the primary source of information about world events.
Many deaf children went away to schools before they could read and write, so parents had to be creative to communicate with their sons and daughters.
As the definitions and associations of words change, the "Connecticut Asylum" eventually gave way to “institution,” then “school."
Deaf children often had to travel great distances to school. Some stayed for nine months of the year, returning home only during summers.
Schools for deaf students were among the first in the nation to offer vocational training in addition to academic courses. Sewing, cooking, and hairstyling were some of the classes offered for deaf girls.
Discover the history of the "little paper family" and how it has helped to foster a sense of belonging and the dissemination of important information among the deaf community.
The federal government's post-civil war "Reconstruction" initiative prompted North Carolina to create the first set of segregated schools for African American deaf students in the South.
Explore the history of the expansion of state schools for deaf students in the nation.
How boarding life and dormitories helped connect the deaf students together in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Deaf students, like most hearing students, were taught special trading skills to help them compete with their counterparts in the outside world.
This page focuses on the impacts of Sports in fostering great interpersonal relationships, teamwork, and the spirit of sportsmanship among deaf students.
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
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