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The Legacy of Deaf History and Deaf Schools 

May 1, 2024

The Legacy of Deaf History and Deaf Schools 

May 1, 2024
May 1, 2024

As our Deaf History Month comes to a close, there are many themes to reflect on –identity, pride, community, struggle, language, values, and more. They are all important things, of course, but what is Deaf history without Deaf schools? Let us expand on that. 

The Legacy of Deaf Schools

At the heart of Deaf history lies the enduring legacy of Deaf schools. It is a place where many students learn and understand their footing in the world. A place for many of their firsts; the first understanding of language, first concept of identity, first sense of belonging, first elation of friendship, first feeling of safety. First hope for their future. And first love, maybe.  

Not all Deaf schools have endured through the times. Some have closed. When the doors shut for good at the Austine School for the Deaf in Vermont and South Dakota School for the Deaf, the surrounding communities were diminished in both population and well-being. Many fled in search of greener pastures– new jobs, new communities. They are losses still felt among many today. 

Of those few that have closed yet still stand. They stand as monuments. Like decommissioned lighthouses, their light and former glory all but spent, never forgotten. They become wonderous stories to be passed down by past alumni and community members, and down to the next generation.  

Many still have their doors open today, too. It is testament to the resilience and struggle of a community against all odds. Bills, legislation, slashing of state schools' budgets – they are not new things to us. We stay aware of them, armed with history at our backs, for the preservation of our future. 

Speaking of preservation, let us not forget the Deaf school museums.  

Deaf Schools Museums 

Not all Deaf schools have museums. But of those that do, they are treasures that contain treasures of Deaf history, both seen and felt. And what better way to celebrate Deaf history than to visit them? 

For this reason, we’ve created a free downloadable PDF for you—a roadmap to Deaf school museums across the United States. Whether you're planning a road trip this summer or simply seeking a deeper understanding of our heritage, let this checklist be your guide! 

When you walk into a museum, take a moment to feel the energy of those who came before you. Look at each picture of the past students, even the staff. They are you. They held the same hopes and dreams as you hold now. You honor and carry their legacy forward simply by living your best life as a Deaf person in this world. 

Let us honor the past by embracing the present, and by charting a course towards a future where Deaf schools thrive.  

Happy Deaf History Month! 

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