Deaf History That — “Deaf Colony”

Deaf History That — “Deaf Colony”


For many years, deaf and hard of hearing people always wanted to have a place of their own. An example of that desire was an article in the American Annals for the Deaf written by John J. Flournoy, he argued that perhaps deaf and hard of hearing people could establish their own colony in the American west, a town where everybody could converse in sign language. There was another interest by E.P. Holmes from Nebraska City, Nebraska who attended the NAD’s first convention in 1880 in Cincinnati, Ohio — he had planned to propose the same idea however, he never had an opportunity to present his idea to the convention body yet his paper was included in the convention proceedings anyway. Holmes proposed that maybe deaf and hard of hearing people could take an advantage of the Homestead Act, the law that allowed people to claim a piece of land up to 160 acres. They could remain on the land and improve upon it then the land would become their own. Holmes asked if deaf and hard of hearing people could come and claim lands side-by-side and in the process creating a community. However these two ideas never became a reality because one argument against it was: the more deaf and hard of hearing people move in that area meant they would conceive hearing children and eventually deaf and hard of hearing citizens could diminish. Regardless of that argument though, even today deaf and hard of hearing people have similar ideas and continue to search for a place of their own.

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