National Deaf History Month, which began Sunday and runs through April 15, highlights historic and current contributions of the Deaf community to American society by commemorating milestones in deaf history. Thursday, Kentucky School for the Deaf and Jacobs Hall Museum will present six different performances celebrating deaf history, free to the public.
The national observation of Deaf History Month, which began in 1975, recognizes three milestones in deaf history:
- April 15, 1817 — the founding of the first public school for the deaf, the American School for the Deaf, by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.
- April 8, 1864 — the signing of the charter for Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., by President Abraham Lincoln, establishing a college for the deaf.
- March 13, 1988 — the victory of the “Deaf President Now” movement in which Gallaudet University students successfully demanded that the university board of trustees select a deaf person as president for the first time in Gallaudet’s history.
Kentuckians can add a fourth historic milestone for the deaf in the United States — the opening, on April 10, 1823, of the institution which would later be named Kentucky School for the Deaf, as the first state-supported school for the deaf in the United States.
To commemorate the 47th anniversary of Deaf History Month, Kentucky School for the Deaf and Jacobs Hall Museum are presenting “Interpreting Our History: a Historical Tour of the First 100 Years of Kentucky School for the Deaf,” at Jacobs Hall from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. March 24. The event is sponsored in part by a grant from the Kentucky Humanities Council. Held as Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce’s March Business-After-Hours, the event is free and open to the public.
Middle and high school students, using American Sign Language, will perform six original plays about KSD’s early history in ASL. The authentic and entertaining production is based on materials and photos in the Jacobs Hall Museum archives. Dr. Bradley Nystrom, professor emeritus of Centre College, served as the project’s academic advisor and researched and wrote the scripts. Teachers Paula Meckes, Ann Arnold, Heath McClain, and Billy Lange translated the scripts into ASL. Because ASL is a language “written on the air,” certified ASL interpreters will interpret the plays for the hearing audience.
Visitors may tour Jacobs Hall and watch one, a few, or all of the student performances. The six plays will be presented in the reception room on the second floor of Jacobs Hall. The play schedule is:
4:40 p.m.: Teaching the Deaf — New World Ways
5 p.m. Student Life in a Residential Setting
5:20 p.m.: Warrick Hall: The Colored School
5:40 p.m.: Did You Know?
6 p.m.: Oma and Sophia: Kentucky’s Own Helen Keller
6:20 p.m.: Batty About Baseball — KSD’s Boys of Summer
Several tour guides will be available on each of the three museum floors. Light refreshments prepared and served by the KSD commercial foods classes will be available on the first floor.
IF YOU GO
“Interpreting Our History: a Historical Tour of the First 100 Years of Kentucky School for the Deaf,”
4:30-6:30 p.m. March 24 in Jacobs Hall,
303 S. Second St.
Enter from the back of the building. Parking is
available behind the building and in a lot
across Second Street from the building.