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Clerc-Gallaudet Week

Honoring the two most important men in deaf education


Updated June 05, 2009

What is Clerc-Gallaudet Week?

The purpose of Clerc-Gallaudet week, held the first full week of December, is to recognize the birthdays of people who were significant in deaf education history: Laurent Clerc (deaf), who was born on December 26, 1785, and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (hearing), who was born on December 10, 1787.

Partnership of Clerc and Gallaudet

To briefly sum up the partnership of Clerc and Gallaudet, Clerc had invited Gallaudet to observe classes at Paris institution for the deaf. Clerc also gave Gallaudet private instruction. Then Gallaudet invited Clerc to come to U.S. and help start a school for the deaf.

On June 18, 1816 the two men started a 52-day voyage to the United States. During the long voyage, Clerc taught Gallaudet sign language. Upon arrival in the United States, the two educators worked tirelessly to raise funds and increase awareness of the need for a school for the deaf in the United States. Their efforts were rewarded when the American School for the Deaf (then known under a different name) opened in Connecticut in 1817.

Clerc-Gallaudet Week is fairly new as a deaf community event, and Alice Hagemeyer, the founder of Friends of Libraries for Deaf Action, has endeavored to spread the word about Clerc-Gallaudet Week.

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