Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet helped found and was the first principal of the oldest permanent school for the deaf in the United States, known as the American School for the Deaf. After Postmaster General Amos Kendall donated land in Washington, DC in 1856 to establish a school and housing for 12 deaf and six blind students, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet’s youngest son, Edward Miners Gallaudet, became the superintendent.
In 1864, Edward Miner Gallaudet appealed to Congress and President Lincoln to sign a bill permitting the institution to confer college degrees. It became the first college for the deaf, and Edward Miner Gallaudet was made president of the college and institution. In honor of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, the institution was renamed Gallaudet College, and in 1986, Gallaudet was granted university status.
Today, undergraduates at Gallaudet University can attain a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science degree in more than 40 majors, and graduate students can attain certificates and master of arts, master of science, doctoral, and specialist degrees. The school is officially bilingual, using American Sign Language (ASL) and English in its classrooms.
Curious about ASL? Check out this introduction: