By Joseph Lee, Co-CEO at InnoCaption & Joe Duarte, Co-CEO at InnoCaption

While many of our recent blog posts have focused on the future of InnoCaption and appreciating our incredible users, it’s also important to take moments for reflection on how this country has navigated accessibility and the experience of being deaf and hard-of-hearing throughout time. We’re especially reminiscent around this time of year as it’s Deaf History Month from mid-March to mid-April, which always reminds us of the Deaf President Now movement at Gallaudet University back in the late 80s.

For those that aren’t familiar, there was a student-led protest in 1988 at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. The protest began when the Board of Trustees announced its decision to appoint a hearing candidate over the other qualified deaf candidates, Irving King Jordan and Harvey Corson, as its seventh president of the University. Gallaudet students, alumni, faculty, and staff protested the decision over several days, which resulted in the appointment of I. King Jordan (a deaf person) as university president on March 13, 1988.

This was the first time that the deaf community really started getting the respect that they deserved as a culture, in their own right, with their own language. At that time, I was learning sign language and getting more proficient with it as I became more and more involved with the deaf community in the 80’s. — Joe Duarte, Co-CEO

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also reference the other two events that encompass this month of history:

  • April 8, 1864: President Abraham Lincoln signed the charter of Gallaudet University in Washington, the first school (in the world!) for the advanced education of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing.
  • April 15, 1817: The first permanent public school for the deaf opens called the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, CT.

2021’s National Deaf History Month is different in that the pandemic over the past year has really emphasized the need for more awareness around accessibility and how we can try to address communication barriers with better policies, more understanding amongst the public and improved technology. It’s the perfect month for the public to become more aware of the history and positive human impact that can be made when we bring about inclusion and access for the deaf community at large. — Joseph Lee, Co-CEO

If you are interested in additional resources and organizations to support during this month, we have a strong appreciation and relationship with the following and highly recommend getting involved: