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National Deaf History Month

National Deaf History Month is recognized and celebrated every year from March 13th to April 15th. During this time, we honor and remember the accomplishments of d/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Here are three key events that impacted the deaf community and inspired National Deaf History Month. 

  • On April 15th, 1817, the first public school, American School for the Deaf, opened.
  • On April 8th, 1864, Gallaudet University, the world’s first institution devoted to advanced education for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, was officially founded.
  • March 13th, 1988, Gallaudet University nominated I. King Jordan as their first Deaf President.

NDHM Origins

Many believe that Deaf History Month started on March 13th, 1996. Two Deaf employees at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., began teaching their colleagues sign language. Consequently, the gesture progressed into a week of Deaf awareness created by the library. Quickly, the week evolved into a month-long period devoted to promoting a greater understanding of the Deaf community. Soon after, in 1996, the National Association of the Deaf proposed the month-long recognition.

Less than a year later, in 1997, a nationwide recognition of National Deaf History Month was in effect! Further, in 2006, the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Associate of the Deaf officially announced that March 13th to April 15th would be National Deaf History Month.

Get Involved!

How can we all encourage Deaf Culture awareness and celebrate National Deaf History Month?

  • Advocate by reaching out to companies and governments. Encourage them to fulfill their legal obligations to d/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
  • Support Deaf-owned and operated businesses.
  • Donate to organizations providing charitable services to the Deaf or hard of hearing community. 
  • Volunteer with Deaf organizations.
  • Learn sign language to promote language inclusion and access for d/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
  • Educate others by promoting information and news about Deaf Culture and the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

At Gateway we believe that everyone has the right to equitable language access and inclusion. We are Maryland’s only non-profit ASL Interpreting Agency. For more information on how your business can provide ASL interpreting services please click here. If you would like to learn more about or sign up for our ASL classes please click here.

First published on March 13, 2022.