American School for the Deaf

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American School for the Deaf
American School for the Deaf, main building, August 10, 2008.jpg
Coordinates 41°46′16″N72°44′50″W / 41.7710°N 72.7473°W / 41.7710; -72.7473 Coordinates: 41°46′16″N72°44′50″W / 41.7710°N 72.7473°W / 41.7710; -72.7473
Type Public
EstablishedApril 15, 1817
Director of educationTommy Meehan
Number of students174
Color(s)Black and orange
AthleticsSoccer, Volleyball, Basketball, Cheerleading, Track & Field, and Softball

The American School for the Deaf (ASD) is the oldest permanent school for the deaf in the United States. It was founded April 15, 1817, in West Hartford, Connecticut, by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, Dr. Mason Cogswell, and Laurent Clerc and became a state-supported school later that year. It was also the second and present site of Hubbard’s school.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

West Hartford, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

West Hartford is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States, 5 miles (8.0 km) west of downtown Hartford. The population was 63,268 at the 2010 census.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet American educator for the deaf

The Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D.,(December 10, 1787 – September 10, 1851) was an American educator. Along with Laurent Clerc and Mason Cogswell, he co-founded the first institution for the education of the deaf in North America, and he became its first principal. When opened on April 15, 1817, it was called the "Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons," but it is now known as the American School for the Deaf.



The first deaf school in the United States was short-lived: established in 1815 by Col. William Bolling of Goochland, Virginia, in nearby Cobbs, with John Braidwood (tutor of Bolling's two deaf children) as teacher, it closed in the fall of 1816. [1]

Goochland, Virginia Census-designated place in Virginia, United States

Goochland is a census-designated place (CDP) in and the county seat of Goochland County, Virginia, United States. The population as of the 2010 census was 861. The community is also known as Goochland Courthouse or by an alternative spelling, Goochland Court House. It derives its name from the fact that the community is the location of the county's court house.

Gallaudet Memorial by Daniel Chester French (1925) at American School for the Deaf American School for the Deaf - Gallaudet Memorial (1925) - March 2016.jpg
Gallaudet Memorial by Daniel Chester French (1925) at American School for the Deaf

During the winter of 1818–1819, the American School for the Deaf became the first school of primary and secondary education to receive aid from the federal government when it was granted $300,000. [2] [3] As a result of its pivotal role in American deaf history, it also hosts a museum containing numerous rare and old items. While it is situated on a 54-acre (220,000 m2) campus, the ASD has a small enrollment — in its history, the ASD has graduated approximately 6000 graduates. [4]

The impetus behind its founding was the fact that Alice Cogswell, the daughter of a wealthy local surgeon (Mason Fitch Cogswell), was deafened in childhood by fever at a time when the British schools were an unacceptable substitute for a local school. Dr. Cogswell prevailed upon the young Gallaudet (who had recently graduated from Yale University's School of Divinity and had begun studying at Andover). Gallaudet met young Alice in Hartford, where he was recovering from a chronic illness.

Alice Cogswell The first student of an official deaf school in the United States of America

Alice Cogswell was the inspiration to Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet for the creation of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut.

Mason Fitch Cogswell American physician

Mason Fitch Cogswell was a United States physician.

Fever common medical sign characterized by elevated body temperature

Fever, also known as pyrexia and febrile response, is defined as having a temperature above the normal range due to an increase in the body's temperature set point. There is not a single agreed-upon upper limit for normal temperature with sources using values between 37.5 and 38.3 °C. The increase in set point triggers increased muscle contractions and causes a feeling of cold. This results in greater heat production and efforts to conserve heat. When the set point temperature returns to normal, a person feels hot, becomes flushed, and may begin to sweat. Rarely a fever may trigger a febrile seizure. This is more common in young children. Fevers do not typically go higher than 41 to 42 °C.

Laurent Clerc Bust by Carl Conrads Laurent Clerc Bust by Carl Conrads, American School for the Deaf, West Hartford, CT - January 2016 01.JPG
Laurent Clerc Bust by Carl Conrads

Cogswell and nine other citizens decided that the known 84 deaf children in New England needed appropriate facilities. However, competent teachers could not be found, so they sent Gallaudet in 1815 on a tour of Europe, where deaf education was a much more developed art. After being rebuffed by the Braidwoods, Gallaudet turned to the Parisian French schoolteachers of the famous school for the Deaf in Paris, where he successfully recruited Laurent Clerc.

New England Region of the United States

New England is a region composed of six states of the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and north, respectively. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the south. Boston is New England's largest city as well as the capital of Massachusetts. The largest metropolitan area is Greater Boston with nearly a third of the entire region's population, which also includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

Deaf education education of the hearing-impaired

Deaf education is the education of students with any degree of hearing loss or deafness which addresses their differences and individual needs. This process involves individually-planned, systematically-monitored teaching methods, adaptive materials, accessible settings and other interventions designed to help students achieve a higher level of self-sufficiency and success in the school and community than they would achieve with a typical classroom education. A number of countries focus on training teachers to teach deaf students with a variety of approaches and have organizations to aid deaf students.

Thomas Braidwood (1715–1806) was a Scottish educator, significant in the history of deaf education. He was the founder of Britain's first school for the deaf.

On the strength of Clerc's reputation, the ASD was incorporated as the "Connecticut Asylum for the Education of Deaf and Dumb Persons," as it was originally known, in May 1816. When it opened in 1817, there were seven students enrolled: Alice Cogswell, George Loring, Wilson Whiton, Abigail Dillingham, Otis Waters, John Brewster, and Nancy Orr. The original name of the school was: The Connecticut Asylum (at Hartford) for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons. [5] John Brewster Jr., was a 51-year-old itinerant portrait painter.

Gallaudet was principal until 1830. His son followed in his legacy, establishing Gallaudet University, which followed the ASD's lead and taught students primarily in American Sign Language (derived from the methodical signs and Parisian sign language of the French Institute for the Deaf).


The school is part of NEPSAC

Camp Isola Bella

Isola Bella is ASD's summer camp for Deaf and Hard of Hearing children located in northwestern Connecticut near Salisbury on an island on Lake Washining. It was established in 1964, after a will of the island from ASD trustees Ferrari and Muriel Ward. There are two sessions, session 1 for ages 8–12 and session 2 for 13-18.

National Theater of the Deaf

In 2004, America's National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) moved its corporate headquarters to the campus of the American School for the Deaf. [6]


Edmund Booth helped establish the Iowa School for the Deaf. [7]

John Flournoy helped establish the Georgia School for the Deaf.

Related Research Articles

American Sign Language Sign language used predominately in the United States

American Sign Language (ASL) is a natural language that serves as the predominant sign language of Deaf communities in the United States and most of Anglophone Canada. Besides North America, dialects of ASL and ASL-based creoles are used in many countries around the world, including much of West Africa and parts of Southeast Asia. ASL is also widely learned as a second language, serving as a lingua franca. ASL is most closely related to French Sign Language (LSF). It has been proposed that ASL is a creole language of LSF, although ASL shows features atypical of creole languages, such as agglutinative morphology.

Thomas Gallaudet (Episcopal priest) Episcopal priest and educator of the deaf, 1822–1902

The Rev. Thomas Gallaudet, D.D., an American Episcopal priest, was born in Hartford, Connecticut. His father, the Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D. was the renowned pioneer of deaf education in the United States. His mother, Sophia Fowler Gallaudet, who was deaf, was the founding matron of the school that became Gallaudet University.

Roch-Ambroise Cucurron Sicard French abbé and instructor of the deaf

Roch-Ambroise Cucurron Sicard was a French abbé and instructor of the deaf.

Edward Miner Gallaudet American educator of the deaf

Edward Miner Gallaudet, son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Sophia Fowler Gallaudet, was a famous early educator of the deaf in Washington, DC.

Manualism is a method of education of deaf students using sign language within the classroom. Manualism arose in the late 18th century with the advent of free public schools for the deaf in Europe. These teaching methods were brought over to the United States where the first school for the deaf was established in 1817. Today manualism methods are used in conjunction with oralism methods in the majority of American deaf schools.

Laurent Clerc French-American deaf educator

Louis Laurent Marie Clerc was a French teacher called "The Apostle of the Deaf in America" and was regarded as the most renowned deaf person in American Deaf History. He was taught by Abbe Sicard and deaf educator Jean Massieu, at the Institution Nationale des Sourds-Muets in Paris. With Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, he co-founded the first school for the deaf in North America, the Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb, on April 15, 1817 in the old Bennet's City Hotel, Hartford, Connecticut. The school was subsequently renamed the American School for the Deaf and in 1821 moved to 139 Main Street, West Hartford. The school remains the oldest existing school for the deaf in North America.

The National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) was founded in 1967 and is the oldest theatre company in the United States with a continuous history of domestic and international touring and producing original works. NTD productions combine American Sign Language with spoken language to fulfill the theatre's mission statement of linking deaf and hearing communities and educating the public about Deaf art. The NTD is affiliated with a drama school, also founded in 1967, and with the Little Theatre of the Deaf (LTD), established in 1968 to produce shows for a younger audience.

The Clerc Classic Basketball Tournament originated at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in 2000 under its Athletic Director, Michael Weinstock, who envisioned a national basketball tournament bringing together outstanding athletes from the top Deaf schools to one site and let them claim the championship. The tournament typically occurs during the second weekend of January. The school who wins that year's tournament often wins the year's Deaf Prep National Championship.

Henry Clay Trumbull Union Army chaplain

Henry Clay Trumbull was an American clergyman and author. He became a world-famous editor, author, and pioneer of the Sunday School Movement.

Francis Maginn Irish activist

Francis Maginn (1861–1918) was a Church of Ireland missionary who worked to improve living standards for the deaf community by promoting sign language and was one of the co-founders of the British Deaf Association.

The Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf (CAID) is an "organization for all teachers, administrators, educational interpreters, residential personnel, and other concerned professionals involved in education of the deaf.". The CAID held its first convention on August 28, 1850, in New York City, New York, at Washington Heights. The second Convention was held the next year, in 1851, in Hartford, Connecticut and the third Convention was held two years after that, in 1853, in Columbus, Ohio. The fourth Convention met in 1856 in Staunton, Virginia. The Convention continued to meet every couple of years, then became formally incorporated during its Fourteenth meeting, in 1895, in Flint, Michigan.

Peter Wallace Gallaudet was a personal secretary to US President George Washington in Philadelphia. He married Jane "Jeannette" Hopkins of Hartford, Connecticut in 1787.

The history of deaf education in the United States began in the early 1800s when the Cobbs School of Virginia, an oral school, was established by William Bolling and John Braidwood, and the Connecticut Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, a manual school, was established by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc. When the Cobbs School closed in 1816, the manual method, which used American Sign Language, became commonplace in deaf schools for most of the remainder of the century. In the late 1800s, schools began to use the oral method, which only allowed the use of speech, as opposed to the manual method previously in place. Students caught using sign language in oral programs were often punished. The oral method was used for many years until sign language instruction gradually began to come back into deaf education.

Deaf rights movement

The Deaf rights movement encompasses a series of social movements within the disability rights and cultural diversity movements that encourages deaf and hard of hearing to push society to adopt a position of equal respect for them. Acknowledging that those who were Deaf or hard of hearing had rights to obtain the same things as those hearing lead this movement. Establishing an educational system to teach those with Deafness was one of the first accomplishments of this movement. Sign language, as well as cochlear implants, has also had an extensive impact on the Deaf community. These have all been aspects that have paved the way for those with Deafness, which began with the Deaf Rights movement.

Samuel Thomas Greene deaf educator

Samuel Thomas Greene was a Deaf American educator and Ontario's first deaf teacher in 1870 at the Ontario Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, which later changed to Sir James Whitney School of the Deaf in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. He was born in 1843 in Portland, Maine and attended to America's first Deaf school in Hartford, Connecticut.


  1. Camp, Ted. "Deaf Timelines: History and Heritage",, Jan. 2011; Loth, Calder, ed. Virginia Landmarks Register, 4th edition, Univ. of Va. Press, 1999.
  2. Dewey, John. 1917. Address, in: Proceedings of the Twenty-First Meeting of the American Instructors of the Deaf ," p. 50
  3. Gallaudet, Edward M. (1886). "History of the education of the deaf in the United States". American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb. 31 (2): 130–47. Archived from the original on 2012-12-28.
  4. Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, p. 16 (PDF Archived 2012-03-28 at the Wayback Machine )
  5. Buchanan, Bob (ed.), "Gaillard in America--Portrait of the Deaf Community, 1917", p. 172 (Link to Google Books)
  6. National Theater of the Deaf (US): NTD moves to ASD in West Hartford, CT (2004); NTD/ASD press release: NTD moves to ASD campus
  7. Edmund Booth. Retrieved on 2013-08-02.