A world-class institute of changemakers in the deaf and signing community.
Since 1864, we have been investing in and creating resources for deaf and hard of hearing children, their families, and the professionals who work with them.
Over 50 degree programs, with online and continuing education for personal and professional development.
Innovating solutions to break down barriers, and using science to prove what does and doesn’t work.
We make it easy for you to apply and enter here.
Ready to take the next step toward a college education?
Make lasting memories and grow in ways you never thought possible.
Laurent Clerc arrived in Hartford in 1816 and brought with him the sign language of Paris, a city with a large Deaf community. He taught this visually sophisticated language to Gallaudet and other teachers. Students at the school brought other sign languages with them-from New York City, Philadelphia, and a tiny island off the coast of Massachusetts, Martha's Vineyard, which had an unusually large population of deaf people at the time. Out of this mix came what was called "the natural language of signs," known today as American Sign Language.
"The heart claims as its peculiar and appropriate language that of the eye and countenance, of the attitudes, movements, and gestures of the body."
~ Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
The "Old Hartford School" is one of the early buildings of the American School for the Deaf, now in West Hartford, Connecticut.
American School of the Deaf
In this portrait by Charles Willson Peale, Laurent Clerc's wife, Eliza Boardman Clerc, is showing her daughter Elizabeth's name sign "E."
Upon arrival at school, students were usually given a name sign that often incorporated the first letter of their name, or identified a distinguishing feature such as round cheeks, a sharp chin, or a dimple. Name signs were often students' first introduction to signing.
Lithographs were used to teach prayers. Many prayers were signed in unison.
Gallaudet University Archives Gift in memory of Ellen Shepardson Gallaudet Fabian Barry, 1991.Artist: J.T. Randolph
Collection of Maryland School for the DeafPhotograph by Richard J. Schoenberg
← PreviousFrom Asylum to School
Next →A Very Solemn Responsibility
Formation of a Community
Language and Identity
Awareness, Access, and Change
Gallaudet University is a federally chartered private and premier university for the deaf and hard of hearing since 1864.
Copyright © 2021 Gallaudet University. All rights reserved.
800 Florida Avenue NE Washington, D.C. 20002
Spring 2021 – Dec 12Fall 2021 – May 15