Most American public libraries own or have access to books and videos related to American Sign Language, deaf culture and history. The public is also encouraged to look up information at the library or on the Internet about great American heroes, like Laurent Clerc (deaf) and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (hearing).

Many members of the deaf community remember deaf historical events, especially the following three: (1) Victory of the Deaf President Now movement at Gallaudet University on March 13, 1988; (2) Charter signed on April 8, 1864 by President Lincoln, authorizing the board of directors of what is now Gallaudet University to grant college degrees to deaf students; and (3) First permanent public school for deaf students in the Western Hemisphere, now known as American School for the Deaf, was co-founded on April 15, 1817 by Laurent Clerc, Thomas Gallaudet and Dr. Mason Fitch Cogswell.

Public libraries in Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, Puerto Rico and Virginia will present deaf cultural programs celebrating Deaf History Month. For additional information, please contact:

Alabama: Paul William Ellis, volunteer program coordinator of the International Institute of Deaf Services in cooperation with the Birmingham Public Library, 205-305-2173 VP/Text/Voice; pwellis@enablelight.com.

District of Columbia: Janice Rosen, Librarian to the Deaf Community, Adaptive Services Division, DC Public Library, 202-727-2145 (voice or videophone) or 202-727-2255 (tty); library_deaf_dc@yahoo.com.

Maryland: Susan Cohen, Coordinator of Library Services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, Disability Resource Center, Montgomery Public Libraries, 240-777-0001 (voice) or 240-777-0902 (tty); drcinfo@montgomerycounty.gov.

Puerto Rico: Alec McFarlane, President of Deaf Library Friends of Puerto Rico in cooperation with Jane Stern Library in Dorado, PR, means2madness@yahoo.com.

Virginia: Neil Phelps, Westover Library Manager, Arlington Public Library, 703-228-5261 (voice) or 703-228-6320 (tty); or nphelps@arlington.us.

Everyone is invited to participate in the National Literary Society of the Deaf (NLSD) national project: “Deaf America Reads: 2008-2010.” The NLSD mission is to promote deaf culture, books and literacy through library programs and exhibits in local communities.

Alice L. Hagemeyer is Volunteer Coordinator for NLSD “Deaf America Reads” Programs and is president of the Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action (FOLDA).


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