Clerc and Gallaudet Week: A Message from Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action

Public Release from Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action!  FOLDA!                       

Celebrate! Clerc and Gallaudet Week: December 3-10, 2022.  

Two visionary leaders in American Deaf Education and the birth of American Sign Language, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (hearing) and Laurent Clerc  (Deaf), co-founders of the first-kind American School for the Deaf, were born in the month of December, Gallaudet on Dec 10, 1787, Clerc on Dec 26, 1785. December 3 is also International Day of Persons with Disabilities (est.1992) and December 10 is Humans Rights Day (est. 1948).  Such International Days have been proclaimed annually by the General Assembly of the United Nations, joined by the White House and US President.

World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) est. 1951
The WFD, located in Helsinki, Finland realizes the human rights of the Deaf with many cultures to quality education and knowledge of pioneers and deaf historical events that change the world. From Abbe Charles Michel de L’Épée of Paris (the 1760s) to the infamous Milan (Italy) Conference (1880) to the Dark age of Deaf Education globally ever since, and much more.

The Values of Deaf History                                                                                               The FOLDA mission is to promote full library access and quality deaf cultural resources for the Deaf Community, and all, nationally and globally.

FOLDA believes that knowledge of the past is crucially important to the well-being of individuals, communities, and the future of all nations.  “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know,” is a famous quote by Harry S. Truman, 34th US President.

In this case, members of both the deaf communities and the library communities should not assume that the general public, especially most government agencies, know about the Americans with Disabilities Act signed into federal law on July 26, 1990.   And also, the Deaf Culture Digital Library (DCDL) was signed into state law on May 15, 2014, by Maryland Governor as well as the  Deaf History Month,  March 13 to April 15 signed into state law by Ohio Governor on December 6, 2017.

FOLDA encourages OSD (National Organizations that Serve the Deaf ) – their affiliates, chapters, and the related local communities of the nation to ask local public libraries about using their meeting room for presenting a deaf cultural program observing  Clerc-Gallaudet Week, December 3-10, 2022.   If the date is too close, then plan for March 13 – April 15, 2023.

Members with an interest to create a program at a local public library should let their organizational president know. 

In this case, please email your program announcement before November 15, 2022, to FOLDA via

The general purpose of such annual deaf events presented at the public library in local communities of the nation, the Deaf with many cultures would be able to work together to build an inclusive library community engagement in local communities of the nation, and globally.

 A Brief History

In November 1972, John A. Love, Governor of Colorado declared what we call today Deaf History Month.  It was then called “Deaf Awareness Week.”  The first movers and shakers of such a first-ever event were David Anthony and Jerome Moers of the Colorado Association of the Deaf.

Two years later in December 1974, then the  DC Executive Office (now of Mayor) declared what we call today Clerc-Gallaudet Week, December 3-10.  Originally called “Deaf Awareness Week” was launched by the District of Columbia Public Library, later followed by “Deaf Action Week” and “Deaf Heritage Week,” in partnership with the NAD and DC Deaf Community. The library staff who took sign class with two Deaf co-workers, Alice L. Hagemeyer and Ida Mapes, took the responsibility for the week’s agenda, and was a big success.

In  1989,  FOLDA suggested changing it to Clerc-Gallaudet Week and to add a new annual event, National Deaf History Month, from March 13 to April 15.  NAD board approved of it.

Later we made December 3 – December 10 the official week date.  December 3 and December 10 are the International Day of People with Disabilities and of Human Rights as proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1992 and 1948 respectively.

The purpose of National Deaf History Month, March 13 -April 15 is to recognize three turning points in America’s history dating back to April 15, 1817 – The first public school for the Deaf opens in Hartford, CT; April 8, 1864 – Gallaudet University, the world’s first institution dedicated to advanced education for the Deaf and March 13, 1988 – The first Deaf president ever hired in Gallaudet’s 124 years history which led to the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into federal law two years later on July 26, 1990.

In 2005 and 2006, the NAD and the American Library Association (ALA) endorsed National Deaf History Month, March 13 – April 15, respectively.

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