Timeline: History of the Deaf community

1000 BC
Hebrew law provides that the Deaf have limited rights to property and marriage.

355 BC
Aristotle says "Those who are born deaf all become senseless and incapable of reason.”

360 BC
Socrates mentions the use of signs by the deaf Plato’s Cratylus. Socrates discusses innate intelligence, and claims that Deaf people are incapable of language and ideas.

77 AD
Pliny the Elder publishes his Natural History. He mentions Quintus Pedius, the son of a Roman Consul. Quintus was a very talented artist who happened to be Deaf. In order to be an artist, he had to first receive permission from Caesar Augustus. 

354-430 AD
St Augustine believed that faith comes by hearing and that deafness is a hindrance to faith. However, he believed that Deaf people can learn and thus are able to receive faith and salvation. Augustine refers to bodily movements, signs, and gestures, and believed that these modes were capable of transmitting thought and belief. He implies that it is equal to spoken language.

Rudolf Agricola, a Dutch humanist, believed that the Deaf could communicate via writing. He advocated the theory that the ability of speech was seperate from the ability of thought.

Girolamo Cardano was the first physician to recognize the ability of the Deaf to reason and the first to challenge Aristotle's belief that hearing was a requirement for understanding.

Alberti, a German physician, published the first book of any kind specifically regarding deafness: Discourse on Deafness and Speechlessness. He stated that hearing and speech were separate functions. Alberti believed that Deaf people were rational, capable of thought, even though they lacked speech. He showed that the Deaf can read lips, understand speech, and read, without the ability to hear.
John Bulwer was a British physician who studied gestures and published Philocopus, also known as the Deaf and Dumbe Man’s Friend in 1648 and Chirologia, also known as the Naturall Language of the Hand in 1644. These were the first English books on deaf education and language.

Earliest records of Deaf Education occurs in Spain. Melchor de Yebra and Juan Pablo de Bonet are prominent during this era. De Yebra was familiar with the hand alphabet used by
monks sworn to vows of silence. He published those handshapes and publicized its use for
for religious purposes among deaf people to promote understanding of spiritual matters. Bonet supported oralism but used fingerspelling to teach speech and literacy. He used this methodology so the deaf could be integrated with hearing society.

George Dalgarno, a Scottish Tutor, taught students to lipread, speak, and fingerspell. He published conclusions about the education of the deaf in Didascalocophus, also known as the Deaf and Dumb Man’s Tutor which supported the use of fingerspelling and gestures in the education of Deaf people.

Samuel Heinicke establishes the first oral school for the deaf in Germany. 

Abbe Charles Michel de l'Epee (1712-1789) establishes the Royal Institution of Deaf and Mutes in Paris. L'Epee supported the school at his own expense until his death. After his death, the government began to support the school. His successor was the Abbe Roch Concurrou (Curcurran) Sicard (1742-1822). It was Sicard who brought Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu to London where they met Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.

Thomas Braidwood founded the first British Academy for the deaf.

Abbe de l’Eppee publishes “Instruction of deaf and dumb by means of methodical signs.”

Braidwood School is founded in the United States by John Braidwood.

American School for the Deaf is founded by Mason Cogswell, Thomas H. Gallaudet, and
 Laurent Clerc.

 The New York Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb is founded.

 Dr. Samuel Howe is the first director for the first school for the blind in the United States which later became known as the Perkins School for the Blind.

American Annals of the Deaf begins publication in Hartford at American School for the Deaf.

Amos Kendall donates 2 acres of land and a house to found a school for the deaf, dumb, and the blind. 

The Empire State Association of the Deaf is formed. It is the first state association of the Deaf.

George Wallis publishes his book; “Language of Touch – a narrative illustrating the instruction of the Blind and Deaf Mute” based on a deafblind woman called Mary Bradley.

The Deaf Mutes’ Journal is established. It continues operation as a popular newspaper of the Deaf until 1951. DMJ is renamed the New York Journal in the 1930s.

Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone. He also uses his influence to implement the practice of oralism, thus restricting communication for deaf people.

The National Association of the Deaf is established in Cincinnati, Ohio.

International Congress of Educators of the Deaf meets for the Milan Conference. James Denison is the only deaf person there out of 16 attendees. The conference overwhelmingly supports oralism. 

Bell reads Memoir upon the Formation of a Deaf Variety of the Human Race at the American Academy of Sciences in New Haven, CT and to the Conference of Principals of American Schools for the Deaf in 1884. Bell is concerned about intermarriage amongst the deaf and states that they shouldn’t marry because this would isolate the deaf from hearing society and encourage births of deaf children. This sparked debate for prohibition of marriage amongst the deaf.

 William Dummy Hoy begins his 15 year career in professional baseball. He is widely attributed to for developing the hand count for umpires in baseball.

Alexander G. Bell establishes the Volta Bureau. 

British Deaf Association is founded.

Agatha Tiegel Hanson is the first woman to graduate with a four year degree, a Bachelor of Arts.

The National Deaf Mute College was renamed to Gallaudet College in honor of Thomas H. Gallaudet.

The first electric hearing aid (radio aid) is developed.

Juliette Gordon Low, a late deafened woman founded the Girl Scouts of America in Savannah, Georgia.

Edwin Nies is the first deaf person to earn a Doctor of Dental Sciences. He earns the degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Earl C. Hanson patents the first vacuum-tube hearing aid.

The International Committee of Silent Sports (CISS) iss founded on August 16 by E. Rubens Alcais of France and Antoine Dresse of Belgium following the first International Games for the Deaf which were held in Pershing Stadium in Paris.

Nellie Zabel Willhite, believed to be the first deaf pilot in the world, soloed.

The American Athletic Association of the Deaf is established in Akron, Ohio.

Behind the ear hearing aid becomes available.

Andrew Foster is the first African American graduate of Gallaudet College. He went on to found 31 schools and 2 centers for the Deaf in Africa.

Stokoe publishes his findings about sign language as a legit language. His publication did not attract much attention until it is republished in 1965 with Casterline and Croneberg as Dictionary of ASL on Linguistic Principles.

The Junior National Association of the Deaf is established for deaf youths.

Robert Weitbrecht, a deaf inventor, invents the acoustic coupler which is similar to the
American textphone. The coupler allows people to use typewriters to send messages over the telephone.

The establishment of a National Technical Institute for the Deaf. NTID, a federally
funded institution located on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology, is the first
technological college for deaf students in the world.

The first Deaf women’s conference is held in Washington, DC at Gallaudet College.

The Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf is established. The Alliance is for Deaf Gays and Lesbians.


The American Association of Deaf and Blind, Inc forms.

The Cochlear implant pioneers.

On March 7, Deaf President Now! protestors barricaded the school. The protestors sought to
overturn a March 6 decision of the Board of Trustees to appoint Elisabeth Ann Zinser as president of Gallaudet University. The protestors demanded a Deaf president, the resignation of Jane B. Spilman as chair of the Board of Trustees, a majority of Deaf people on the Board, and no reprisals against students who participated in the protest. The protest included a march to the Capitol. On March 10, Zinser resigned and Spilman's resignation followed on the 13th. Phil Bravin took over as chair of the Board and I. King Jordan was appointed the president of Gallaudet.

The World Federation for the Deaf and Blind is founded.

The British Government recognizes British Sign Language as a bona-fide language.

Source: http://archives.gallaudet.edu/Timeline.htm (http://www.ead.ee/373774)