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Deaf History Month

Deaf History Month

March 10, 2022

Introduced in 1997 by The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), National Deaf History Month recognized the accomplishments of people who are deaf and hard of hearing. National Deaf History Month has been celebrated annually from March 13 – April 15 to recognize three key developments for the Deaf community. The first event that impacted the deaf community was the opening of the first public school for the deaf on April 15, 1817, now the American School for the Deaf. The second impactful event was the founding of the first institution dedicated to advanced education for the deaf and hard of hearing, Gallaudet University, on April 8, 1864, and the third event was the hiring of the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, I. King Jordan on March 13, 1988. Like so many changes that have occurred, the hiring of I. King Jordan came about from a protest movement, Deaf President Now (DPN), which involved students, faculty and the national deaf community. This movement served to educate the nation of the rights and abilities of deaf and hard of hearing persons.

Beginning this year, 2022, National Deaf History Month will now be observed annually from April 1-30. Feedback received from the NAD Deaf Culture and History Section (DCHS) and organizations representing marginalized communities recommended the change in dates to be inclusive of experiences of BIPOC Deaf People and celebrate all Deaf persons in the US. According to data provided by the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 2-3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears and approximately 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Deaf persons in the United States experience inequitable access to education, justice, and health care as well as employment discrimination. The 2019 National Deaf Center report Deaf People and Employment in the United States shows that deaf persons are actively looking for work to a greater extent than hearing persons and that employment rates for deaf persons has not increased from 2008 to 2017.

UNC’s Disability Resource Center (DRC) provides D(d)eaf/Hard of Hearing services including American sign language interpreting, Computer-Aided Real Time Transcription (CART), and Closed Captioning. Services are provided for students, staff, faculty and University sponsored events in an effort to make events inclusive and accessible to everyone in attendance. The DRC provides an events planning guide, Inclusive Events A Guide to Planning an Accessible Event, to help you plan inclusive events.

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For additional education and personal development related to diversity, equity and inclusion, the following resources are available: DEI Education and Resources, DEI & Antiracism Resources from the UNC Libraries, the Education Equity Toolkit from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and the UNITE workshops for faculty, staff, and students.