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Observing Deaf History Month


 1135965- Alphabet for the Deaf and Dumb. - 1. (ca. 1903-1917) (British Sign Language Alphabet)NYPL Digital Gallery- Image ID: 1135965- Alphabet for the Deaf and Dumb. - 1. (ca. 1903-1917) (British Sign Language Alphabet)

Did you know? Deaf History Month is celebrated each year from March 13-April 15. It straddles two months to highlight three of the key milestones in deaf history:

  • March 13, 1988: The Deaf President Now movement succeeds in having I. King Jordan named the first deaf president of Gallaudet University.
  • April 8, 1864: President Abraham Lincoln signs the charter for Gallaudet University in Washington, the first school for the advanced education of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing in the world.
  • April 15, 1817: The first permanent public school for the deaf, the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, opens.

Celebrate (American Sign Language (ASL))Celebrate (American Sign Language (ASL))In observance of Deaf History Month, we have selected some books—fictional and factual—for children, teens and adults focusing on deafness and Deaf culture.



The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

By Josh Berk

When Will Halpin transfers from his all-deaf school into a mainstream Pennsylvania high school, he faces discrimination and bullying, but still manages to solve a mystery surrounding the death of a popular football player in his class. For junior and senior high.


The Deaf Musicians

By Pete Seeger and Paul DuBois Jacobs

Jazz pianist Lee is asked to leave his band when he loses his hearing. At sign language class, Lee meets Max who plays the sax. Riding the subway together, they form a new band with a big audience. For kindergarten to grade 3 and older readers. Schneider Family Book Award, 2007.

Deaf Sentence

By David Lodge

A distinguished retired professor suddenly finds himself struggling with intermittent hearing loss while taking care of his dying father who is also going deaf. For adults.


Five Flavors of Dumb

By Antony John

Dumb is not the name Piper, a high school senior who is Deaf, would have chosen for a heavy metal band, yet she volunteers to manage this disparate group of would-be musicians. In her attempt to make Dumb profitable, Piper learns a few things about music and business, striking a chord within herself. For junior and senior high.

Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love

By Myron Uhlberg

Uhlberg, a critically-acclaimed and award-winning author of several children's books, writes of growing up in Brooklyn as the child of deaf parents. For adults.

Hurt Go Happy

By Ginny Rorby

Thirteen-year-old Joey Willis, deaf since age seven, has an overprotective mother who refuses to let her daughter learn sign language. When Joey meets neighbor Dr. Mansell and his sign-user chimpanzee Sukari, her world blooms with possibilities. But a crisis involving Sukari brings Joey some heavy responsibilities. For junior and senior high. Schneider Family Book Award, 2008.

Moses Goes to a Concert

By Isaac Millman

Moses and his classmates, all of whom are deaf, go to a concert with their teacher and enjoy experiencing music. They discover that the percussionist in the orchestra is also deaf. Includes information on sign language. For kindergarten to grade 3.

My Sister's Voice

By Mary Carter

Lacey, an accomplished deaf artist, suddenly discovers the existence of Monica, her twin sister, and questions why her parents put her up for adoption while choosing to raise Monica. For adults.


Singing Hands

By Delia Ray

Alabama, 1948. Twelve-year-old Gussie, a minister’s daughter, learns the definition of integrity while helping with a celebration at the school for the deaf—her punishment for impulsive misdeeds against her deaf parents and their boarders. For grades 5 to 8.


I'll Scream Later

By Marlee Matlin

Memoir of the Academy Award-winning actress, who has been deaf since she was 18 months old. For adults.



Inside Deaf Culture

By Carol Padden and Tom Humphries

A historical look at the issues and challenges faced by the Deaf community in America. For adults.



Kicking Up Dirt: A True Story of Determination, Deafness and Daring

By Ashley Fiolek

Story of Ashley Fiolek, born deaf, who had won the Women's Motocross Championship—twice—by age 20. For adults.



Signing in Puerto Rican: A Hearing Son and His Deaf Family

By Andres Torres

Torres writes affectionately about straddling four worlds while growing up: Puerto Rican; New Yorker; Deaf; and Hearing. For adults.



Through Deaf Eyes

By Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey

This videorecording presents a historical view of the American deaf experience through a spectrum of stories told by great personalities, as well as ordinary people who are hearing impaired. For adults.


The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa

By Josh Swiller.

The author, who lost his hearing as a child, tells of his experience in Zimbabwe with the Peace Corps, which he joined "to find a place past deafness." For adults.


This list was compiled by Brigid Cahalan, Alexandra Gomez and Miriam Tuliao. These and other titles in different formats are available at your local library.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Deaf Ancestor

Your post is very timely as I am writing a screenplay about one of my deaf ancestors. He was one of three siblings within my great-grandparent's generation who were "deaf-mute". The screenplay will be based in large part on the writing my ancestor did as a boy while living at the castle of Vaumarcus in Swtitzerland.

Regarding your screenplay

Unless your grandfather was actually "mute", meaning he was born with the inability to speak, the correct term is "deaf". The outdated term "deaf-mute" is very offensive to the Deaf community. Best of luck and I hope one of the many talented Deaf actors will play your grandfather!

Deaf classes at the Library

The purpose of this post is to suggest in the future that maybe the Library can facilitate classes at the various library locations or create a list of resources for library patrons who are interested in learning the different techniques in sign language. I am one of those interested patrons and I am cautious about being scammed without having the proper knowledge about qualifications of teachers/schools that teach deaf to people who are not hearing impaired.

Books about cochlear implants

If you consider "The Unheard" a book about deaf people, I am surprised "Rebuilt: My Journey Back to the Hearing World", an extraordinarily well-written book by Michael Chorost did not make it on your list. Other books about people and their lives with cochlear implants that are worth reading are "If a Tree Falls: A Family's Quest to Hear and Be Heard" by Jennifer Rosner. Both of those books are junior in high school and above books. A great age 9-12 book is RALLY CAPS by Stephen J. Cutler and Jodi Cutler Del Dottore.

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