This Saturday marks the anniversary of a huge event that took place in Deaf history. April 15, 1817 was the opening of the first permanent school for the Deaf in the United States of America and the beginning stages toward the creation of American Sign Language.
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet met Dr. Mason Cogswell and wanted to discover a better technique for educating Cogswell’s daughter, Alice. Gallaudet traveled to Europe and met a Deaf educator, Laurent Clerc at I’Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris, a school for the Deaf in Paris, and brought him back to the United States. Together they founded the American School for the Deaf.
They brought in Deaf students using Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language, village sign languages, and incorporated them with French Sign Language. This joining of languages, lead to the creation of American Sign Language. Since this time American Sign Language has been accepted as an official language with its own linguistic components.