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September 14, 2004

PRESS RELEASE: Artifacts, historical images mark exhibit's stay at Civil Rights Institute

From: Gallaudet - Sept 14, 2004

For more information, contact:
Darrick Nicholas
Media Relations Coordinator
Gallaudet University
PH: 202.448.7136

Visitors experience "History Through Deaf Eyes"

Artifacts, historical images mark exhibit's stay at Civil Rights Institute

(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) "In 1858, the year the Alabama School for the Deaf was founded, would they have taken me as a student?" Dr. Glenn Anderson, chairman of the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees, posed this question to 110 students from the Alabama School visiting the "History Through Deaf Eyes" exhibition at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

After an exchange about race as the reason he would not have been admitted, Dr. Anderson spoke of the intersections of history. He encouraged students to carefully study the permanent civil and human rights exhibitions of the Institute, and the "Deaf Eyes" story, and look for connections.

"History Through Deaf Eyes," a nationally touring exhibition developed by Gallaudet, opened Sept. 7, 2004, at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the only tour venue devoted to analysis and historical presentation of civil rights. It will remain open to the public through Oct. 24, 2004.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Gallaudet President I. King Jordan touched on a few of the project's goals. "We wanted to bring the history of Deaf people to the public, to say 'we were there too,'" he said. "We wanted visitors to begin to see the struggles of our community in relation to the struggles of other minority groups. Today we are closer to achieving that goal."

Dr. Anderson added, "My hope is visitors – deaf and hearing – will see and appreciate the interconnection between the civil rights movement and Deaf America's struggle for justice and equality."

Accompanying the exhibit is an artifact honoring a legendary deaf person from Alabama. Born in Tuscumbia, Ala., Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind individual to earn a college degree, graduating with honors from Radcliffe College in 1904. A corbel adorns the Washington (D.C.) National Cathedra in Keller's honor. A cast of the corbel was made by the Cathedral so that deaf and blind visitors could touch it. The cast, for the first time, has left Washington to be installed in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for the "History Through Deaf Eyes" exhibition

Developed by Gallaudet University, "History Through Deaf Eyes" is a traveling social history exhibition aligning nearly 200 years of U.S. history with the experiences of deaf people. Using objects and images collected by individuals, organizations and schools for deaf children, this exhibition illustrates the shared experiences of family life, education, and work - as well as the divergent ways deaf people see themselves, communicate, employ and adapt technology, and determine their own futures.

To learn more about the program, visit

About Gallaudet University

The mission of Gallaudet University is to serve as a comprehensive, multipurpose institution of higher education for deaf and hard of hearing citizens of the United States and of the world. In addition to its undergraduate and graduate academic programs, the University also offers national demonstration elementary and secondary education programs. The only liberal arts university in the world designed exclusively for deaf and hard of hearing students, Gallaudet University is located in Washington, DC. TTY/V: 202.651.5000