The Golden Age of Deaf Education
Between the years 1818 and 1912, more than thirty schools for the deaf were established. These schools were established by deaf teachers, hearing teachers, and deaf students who were alumni of the American School for the Deaf and Gallaudet College.
Gallaudet College was established in Washington, D.C., in 1864. It was and still remains the only liberal arts college exclusively for the deaf, both in the United States and in the world. Originally, the college was named the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind. By the request of the alumni, in 1893, the name of the college was changed to honor Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Gallaudet's son, Edward Miner Gallau-det, became the first president of Gallaudet College. Today Gallaudet is a bustling campus with approximately 1,680 students. The campus continues to expand, offering a vast array of programs and new research centers. Gal-laudet University now boasts 15,000 alumni, nationally and internationally.
Here are some little-known involvements between the Gallaudet College and United States presidents. Abraham Lincoln signed an act of Congress establishing accreditation for Gallaudet College and was its first patron. Ronald Reagan accorded university status to Gallaudet College in 1986. And in a tradition that began with Ulysses S. Grant in 1869, the president of the United States, as patron of the university, signs all diplomas.
Between the years 1840 and 1912, American Sign Language flourished across the United States. These years were known as the Golden Age of Deaf Education, and approximately 40 percent of all the deaf educators were deaf themselves. Sadly, this golden age went into a downslide near the end of the nineteenth century.