In March of 1996, two deaf employees at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington D.C. taught American Sign Language to their coworkers. This exercise spurred a week dedicated to deaf awareness at the library. The National Association of the Deaf suggested the week become a month, and in 1997 Deaf History Month was launched. Deaf History Month runs from March 13 through April 15, a period which encompasses three key dates in deaf history: the founding on April 8, 1864 of Gallaudet University, a private university for the education of deaf and hearing-impaired students; the appointment of the first deaf President to Gallaudet on March 13, 1988; and the opening of the American School for the Deaf, the first public school for the deaf, on April 15 in 1817.
The Los Angeles Public Library has books and other resources which chronicle the history of deaf people in society and provide information on the deaf community and its contributions. The photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library provides a chance to see Southern California’s deaf residents as they live their lives, capturing them in settings ranging from schools to swimming pools.
Louise Treadwell Tracy (wife of actor Spencer Tracy) watches as a deaf student attending the Leadership Training Program at Valley State College (now California State University, Northridge) utilizes the newly invented telephone for the deaf. The student is able to send a message to a friend in another state via the telephone, thus making it possible for him to have a conversation over the phone. Tracy founded the John Tracy Clinic (also known as the John Tracy Center), a non-profit educational resource center for the deaf based in Los Angeles, naming the facility after her son, John, who was born deaf.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Gordon Dean on January 28, 1964.
Esther Arnold teaches a Sunday School class of deaf students at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in North Hollywood.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on August 26, 1961.
Connie Tidwell, a teacher at the John Tracy Clinic, demonstrates to the clinic’s Northridge guild how she is helping four year old Patty O’Haver learn to speak.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Steve Young on October 23, 1964.
Deaf students attend special classes at Saticoy Street School in North Hollywood. These classes were designed to prepare hearing-impaired children to attend classes with students with normal hearing. Hearing aids enable deaf students to participate in class discussions and (in this photo) spelling instruction.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Larry Leach on December 2, 1963.
Three preschool children in the Los Angeles area utilize hearing aids at the John Tracy Clinic.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken on May 14, 1964.
Muriel Hersom leads a group of deaf congregants in silent worship at MacArthur Memorial Bible Church in Burbank. Using hand movements, body rhythm, and expressive signs, Hersom conveys the meaning of hymns, sermons, and songs.
Valley Times Collection, both photos taken by Bob Martin on April 25, 1964.
Richard Joy, Jr., a blind and deaf Boy Scout, is awarded the rank of Eagle Scout by Los Angeles County Supervisor Warren Dorn. Joy’s parents watch proudly as their son is given the certification scroll.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Jon Woods on July 20, 1960.
Bob Follosco (standing in pool) teaches John Lewis how to swim while Joann Munson and Kathy Garcia await instruction. These three students are deaf. Follosco, the pool manager at San Fernando Municipal Pool, hailed them as the best students he had ever taught.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken on June 27, 1961.
Lori Le Sage, a seven year old patient at the John Tracy Clinic, poses with two members of the Northridge Guild of the John Tracy Clinic, as plans for a luncheon and fashion show are being discussed.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on October 24, 1962.
Attorney Charles Mepham uses American Sign Language to confer with his client, Walter Lee Meiners, before going to court.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken by Dean Gordon on February 21, 1957.
Quarterback Steve Scolaro uses sign language to give orders to his football team at California School for the Deaf.
Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Joe Rustan on November 17, 1965.
A delegate representing a member club of the American Athletic Association of the Deaf uses sign language to deliver a speech during a four-day National Basketball Tournament held in Los Angeles.
Valley Times Collection, photo taken by George Brich on March 30, 1963.
Four coworkers at Community Rehabilitation Industries in Long Beach chat with each other during a coffee break. As all four are deaf, they use American Sign Language to converse.
Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken on October 1, 1960.
Deaf actress Marlee Matlin is exuberant as she uses American Sign Language to give her acceptance speech at the 59th Academy Awards ceremony in downtown Los Angeles. Matlin won an Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in the film Children of a Lesser God.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection, photo taken by Paul Chinn on March 31, 1987.
NOTE: For additional information (include ordering) on any photo, simply click on the photo and you will be taken to its information page.