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Celebrating Deaf Culture and History

by River Seiler on 2023-04-03T08:00:00-05:00 | 0 Comments

April is National Deaf History Month! Learn more about Deaf history and culture from this blog post, or from the books we have on display in the Library!

Deaf History 

America’s first advanced school for the deaf, Gallaudet University, was founded April 8, 1864. Gallaudet University had hearing presidents until its students started the Deaf President Now movement, which resulted in the University’s first Deaf president in 1988 (from Insight Into Diversity's "National Deaf History Month" article). 

National Deaf History Month was introduced in 1997 by the National Association for the Deaf (NAD), and the American Library Association partnered with NAD in 2006, spreading awareness of Deaf history and culture.  

Deaf and hard of hearing people are writers, painters, professional athletes, actors, and much more. To learn more, check out Start ASL’s list of over 200 Famous Deaf People

What is Deaf Culture? 

Deaf culture was not considered a culture of its own until 1965, when Deaf culture was acknowledged in A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles by William Stokoe, Dorothy Casterline, and Carle Croneberg (from Start ASL's "Deaf Culture Essentials" page).  

Prior to this acknowledgment, Deaf people were seen only in terms of their hearing loss. In Inside Deaf Culture, Carol Padden and Tom Humphries define a culture as “a set of learned behaviors of a group of people that share a language, values, rules for behavior, and traditions” (from Start ASL's "Deaf Culture Essentials" page).  


  • Deaf people in the United States speak American Sign Language (ASL). In other countries, other forms of sign languages are used, many of which use different signs and/or different signing structure from ASL.


Rules for Behavior: 

“Little d deaf refers to people who have lost their hearing. “Big D” Deaf refers to people who are involved in Deaf culture and share the values, behaviors, and language of that culture. Just because you are deaf, doesn’t mean you are Deaf. And in some cases, just because you are Deaf doesn’t mean you are is the case for some hearing children of Deaf parents” (from Start ASL's "Deaf Culture Essentials" page).  


Recommended Reading & More 

Documentaries and Video Stories:



Guides to Learning ASL: 

Thanks for reading! We hope to see you in the Library again soon! 

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