The Deaf community exists subtly. They don’t look or act differently, but they do communicate with a completely different language than most hearing Americans are used to. American Sign Language (ASL) was developed in the 1800’s and has made many strides in allowing the Deaf to communicate. It is recognized as a complete language used by hundreds of thousands of people in the United States. This language has opened so many doors for the Deaf, but too many remain closed because of the lack of accessibility in the hearing world.
The first American school to teach American Sign Language (ASL) was the Hartford-based Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons in 1817 (renamed the American School for the Deaf). While the focus on educating persons with disabilities was groundbreaking at the time, it is clear from the institution’s name alone that there was an implicit, audist prejudice in its perception and approach to its students.