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Celebrating Deaf History Month

By: Nancy Boone, Librarian at Ohio School for the Deaf

You’re probably aware that March is National Women’s History Month, and April is not only National Poetry Month but also School Library Month. But did you know that overlapping March and April is Deaf History Month? Thanks to the efforts of deaf librarian Alice Hagemeyer, in 2006 the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the American Library Association (ALA) announced March 13 – April 15 as Deaf History Month. Currently, Senate Bill 27 is working its way through the Ohio legislature to establish March 13 – April 15 as Ohio Deaf History Month. (Read more about the bill here).

Why such odd dates spanning two calendar months? This period of time encompasses three key dates in American Deaf history. March 13 marks the day in 1988 when the Deaf President Now protest culminated in the naming of Dr. I. King Jordan as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University. Gallaudet in Washington, DC, is the only liberal arts college for the deaf in the world. It was founded April 8, 1864, when Abraham Lincoln signed the charter for the college, then called Columbia Institution for Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind. The closing date of April 15 signifies the establishment of American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT as the first permanent public school for the deaf in 1817.

Following are some resources to support the observance of Deaf History Month: Picture Books
  • Max Learns Sign Language by Adria F. Klein (2007) -early reader
  • My Heart Glow: Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the Birth of American Sign Language by Emily Arnold McCully (2008)
  • Moses Goes to a Concert by Isaac Millman (1980)
  • Moses Goes to School by Isaac Millman (2000)
  • Moses Goes to the Circus by Isaac Millman (2003)
  • Moses Sees a Play by Isaac Millman (2004)
  • Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rappaport, Matt Tavares (2012)
  • Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger & Paul Dubois Jacobs (2006) -ALA honored book
  • Kami and the Yaks by Andrea Stenn Stryer (2007)
  • Flying over Brooklyn by Myron Uhlberg (1999)
  • The Printer by Myron Uhlberg (2003)
  • Dad, Jackie and Me by Myron Uhlberg (2005) -Schneider Family Book Award winner
  • The Sound of All Things by Myron Uhlberg (2016)
  • The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game by Nancy Churnin (2016)
Novels (for middle grades through teen)
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell (2014) -Newbery Honor; graphic novel
  • The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk (2010)
  • You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (2017)
  • Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (2010) -Schneider Family Book Award winner
  • T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte (2008)
  • Deaf Child Crossing (Deaf Child Crossing #1) by Marlee Matlin (2004)
  • Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller (2007)
  • Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby (2006) -Schneider Family Book Award winner
  • Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (2011) -Schneider Family Book Award winner
Nonfiction (for teens/adults)
  • Kicking up Dirt: ATrue Story of Determination, Deafness, and Daring by Ashely Fiolek with Caroline Ryder (2010)
  • Inside Deaf Culture by Carol Padden, Tom Humphries (2005)
  • Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love by Myron Uhlberg (2009)
Happy Deaf History Month!