National Deaf History Month, which begins on March 13, was originally envisioned as just one week to promote a greater understanding of the deaf community. Today, National Deaf History Month is a month long, nationwide celebration of contributions of the hearing impaired and deaf community to American society.
National Deaf History Month was the creation of two deaf employees at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington DC. They began teaching their colleagues sign language, and these initial lessons grew into Deaf Awareness Week, celebrated and recognized by library administration.
In 1996, the National Association of the Deaf suggested the week become a full-fledged month, and in 1997, the first annual, nation-wide National Deaf History Month was celebrated, March 13 - April 15.
The mid-month start and end of National Deaf History Month is based on three historic dates. On March 13, 1988, Gallaudet University - the only university in the world exclusively for deaf students - selected their first deaf president. On April 8, 1864, President Lincoln signed a charter that allowed degrees to be granted to deaf students, and on April 15, 1817, the first permanent school for the deaf in the Western Hemisphere was established in Hartford, CT.