William Stokoe

by KS


One of my favorite people in Deaf history is William Stokoe because when I read about him I felt a sense of relief and triumph that someone in recent history was able to make people, especially those in the academic world, wake up and notice the legitimacy of the Deaf culture and its language.

His love of the language, Deaf culture, and education empowered him to raise ASL to a level of prestige that possibly surpassed what had been, sadly, lost for generations.

It seems as though some of ‘the years the locusts had eaten’ were restored to the Deaf community because of this man’s passion.

Webmaster Comments:

You’re absolutely right! William Stokoe changed the course of American Sign Language. Before Stokoe, ASL wasn’t seen as a real language. It was seen as meaningless gestures or pantomime and because of this, ASL wasn’t even considered for use in the education of deaf children–a type of education they so greatly need. And not only did he prove that ASL was a language at that time, his books also proved that Deaf culture is a real culture! Talk about a major person in Deaf history! What a great favorite to pick! Thank you for sharing 🙂

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