Laurent Clerc

October 26, 2011 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

Can you imagine where deaf and hard of hearing people would be if we never had Laurent Clerc?

In 1816, Clerc traveled to America with his friend and interpreter, Rev. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet from Paris on a ship for 52 days. During that time, Gallaudet tutored Clerc in English. And, Clerc also showed him how to use the method of signs for abstract ideas.

They arrived in Harford, Connecticut, on August 22, 1816. On the very same day, Clerc met Alice Cogswell who was deaf. She also was the daughter of Gallaudet’s neighbor and friend, Mason Fitch Cogswell.

Alice signed and showed a lot of hunger for knowledge without any language. It was then when Clerc decided to carry out his mission that he came to do.

Thomas Gallaudet and Alice Cogswell Clerc, Gallaudet and Dr. Cogswell delivered many speeches and demonstrations of their teaching methods to deaf children in order to get public, legislative and financial support for their goals. From October 1816 to April 1817, they traveled to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and other places. They continued informing the public, interviewing parents of deaf children, and prospective students. They raised about $12,000 from the public. The Connecticut General Assembly made history by voting an additional of $5,000 for the school.

On April 15, 1817, the first School for the Deaf in America was opened in Harford, Conn. with seven students. Of course, Alice Cogswell was the first student to enroll this program. At first, it was called the Connecticut Asylum at Hartford for the Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons and now it is the American School for the Deaf.

Gallaudet was the principal and Clerc was the head teacher. One year following, poor and uneducated students enrolled. Their ages ranged from 10 to 51 years old.

Clerc’s influence had thirty residential schools established during his lifetime. In June 1864, he was a guest of honor at the inauguration of the National Deaf-Mute College, now Gallaudet University.

If it was not for Clerc, deaf and hard of hearing people of all ages would be considered mentally retarded and live in institutions without any form of communication. We need to bow to him with our great appreciation and a lot of applause for what he did for us.

I cannot imagine myself without my education. I also can visualize that others feel the same way as I do.

By Doreen Solar, ECNV Deaf Peer Counselor

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Entry filed under: Deaf/HoH -- Vlog. Tags: , , , , .

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