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National Deaf History Month is March 13 through April 15

Tuesday March 03, 2020 - Jennifer Prell
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National Deaf History Month (March 13 – April 15) celebrates and promotes awareness of American deaf history and culture.

While American Sign Language (ASL) has been used in the United States since at least the early 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1960s that it began to be widely recognized by both linguists and the hearing public as a language of its own. But even with the more prominent rise of Deaf culture and American Sign Language, deaf individuals were – and still are – continually dealing with issues of access and communication. Before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (requiring employers, businesses, and others to provide “reasonable accommodations” that ensure effective communication), the deaf community fought for equal access and found that not everyone recognized that communication requires effort from all sides.

(Emily Mathay, Archives Reference Intern and Graduate Student, Simmons College GSLIS, Archives Management and History. Emily is a CODA (Child of a Deaf Adult) and is fluent in American Sign Language.)

Famous people you may have heard of that were deaf: Ludvig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. He started going deaf at the age of 28 and by age 49 he could no longer hear. He continued to get worse but went on composing music. Beethoven died in 1857 when he was 57 years-old. Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She was born with sight and hearing but at 19 months old; Helen fell ill and became blind and deaf. To help her learn, Helen's parents hired a teacher named Anne Sullivan. Anne taught Helen sign language and how to read Braille (special writing for blind people).

Today there are many institutes around the world such as Helen Keller International dedicated to helping the deaf and the blind. With the enactment of the American with Disabilities Act, it took a deaf individual named Lee Nettles to take Netflix to court to force them to offer closed captioning with their programming.

2012: Netflix announced that it will offer closed captions on all TV and movie content from September 2014 as part of a settlement with a deaf viewer from Massachusetts (Lee Nettles) who sued the company.[36] In 2012, a federal judge in Springfield, Massachusetts ruled in that lawsuit that Netflix and other online providers that serve the public are subject to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the first ruling in the country to recognize that Internet-based businesses are covered by the act.[36]

When looking for other information about National Deaf History Month, I came across this information which I found important to include.

National Association of the Deaf - NAD

The NAD is the nation's premier civil rights organization of, by, and for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in the United States of America.


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