In 2012, Rick Rush, an accomplished sport artist, was commissioned to paint a collage, representing the mission of DEAF Inc. Rick admitted that this project has taken him out of his comfortable zone - sports painting, however, he, enthusiastically, tackled the challenge. To learn more about the deaf community and its strive for communication access and equal functionality, Rick partnered with the DEAF Inc. leadership team, researched and interviewed many stakeholders in the deaf and hard of hearing community. Throughout his partnership and collaboration with the deaf community, he learned so much about the overlooked culture - deaf culture. To summarize his experience, he said that the deaf and hard of hearing community today is "Stronger Than Ever!" thanks to organizations like DEAF Inc. who are breaking communication barriers everyday.
To learn more about the symbolic messages in the painting, click on the circles below
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In 2011, Rick Rush was named the United States Sports Academy’s Sport Artist Of The Year.
From an early age, it was obvious to his mother and father, friends, and teachers, that “Rick” had a fondness and talent for drawing. Rick was also a gifted athlete; he was starting quarterback at his high school and an early claim to fame was leading his team to victory over Foley, led by future Super Bowl XI winner Ken Stabler. His two gifts were harmoniously interwoven, but his true calling was in art. Because of Rick’s love for watching and participating in sports, he felt a natural subject for his art would be the sporting life in America. "Artists paint or write about things that are close to them," Rick often says, "Hemingway related to bullfighting, the sea, and war –I relate to sports."
To learn more about Rick Rush, click here to view a more detailed biography.
Rick Rush explains how Gallaudet University serves as the cornerstone of deaf people's strive for social equality.
Rick Rush explains how deaf people faces hurdles and mountains everyday, where the mainstream doesn't.
Rick Rush admires the efforts of the Deaf Community in fighting for the rights and freedoms of its people.
Rick Rush talks about the mission and goals of DEAF Inc. - "Effective Communication" through freedom and justice.
The Star of David at the beginning of the Deaf History Timeline is symbolic of what ideas from antiquity were concerning the deaf. The Torah stood for the protection of the deaf from being cursed by others. However it did not allow them to participate in the rituals of the temple and had special laws concerning marriage and property. The ancient Talmud denied the deaf from having property rights.
The Alpha and the Omega letters in the second icon of the Deaf History Timeline are symbolic of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. These letters have an additional reference to Christianity and layered atop of the Alpha and the Omega is a cross. Some early church leaders believed that deaf children being born were a sign of God’s response to the sins of the mother and the father. Contrary to this thought, Benedictine monks who could hear would take vows of silence to enhance their communication with and honor of God by not speaking. These monks developed a system of signs so as to communicate during these times of silence.
They also symbolize what the Greeks thought about the deaf. Aristotle claimed that deaf people could not be educated since they were without hearing. Consequently, non-hearing people could not be taught and therefore could not learn.
The last icon in this left section of the Deaf History Timeline is of the American School for the Deaf building that was founded by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, Laurent Clerc, and Mason Fitch Cogswell in Hartford, Connecticut. Gallaudet traveled to Europe to meet Roch-Ambroise Cucurron Sicard in France. Sicard was commissioned by the archbishop of Bordeaux to focus on deaf education under the instruction of de l'Épée. Laurent Clerc was an instructor of Sicard's and was assigned by him with the mission of coming to the United States with Gallaudet to help start a school and train deaf students. Sicard wrote the important book, "Theory of Signs" which was vital in the teaching and growth of effective communication for deaf students. Alice Cogswell, daughter of Mason Fitch Cogswell, was the first to be admitted to the American School for the Deaf and many deaf educators were trained and encouraged to establish schools in different areas to teach sign language to the deaf.
The first icon in the middle section of the symbols of the Deaf History Timeline is that of an American Indian headdress. As the United States grew and moved westward, Americans discovered that the Indian tribes of this new land had used sign language and symbols to communicate for centuries just as other people groups have over history all around the world.
The antique telephone icon represents the effort expended by Alexander Graham Bell to help the deaf and hard of hearing in America. After a failed attempt at oral deaf education versus sign language methodology education, Bell finished work on the telephone in 1876. His invention of the telephone developed into equipment that has mushroomed in its usages and has led to TTY and other effective communication tools for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Shortly after the invention of the telephone, the Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf (1880) publicly supports the technique of oral based education as a better system of education for the deaf than is the system of signing and symbols. The Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf was nicknamed as the Milan Conference. The United States was the single, solitary country that went in a contrary direction to the Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf and supported the educational techniques of manual systems to teach and train the deaf in more effective communication.
This NAD logo icon illustrates how in 1880 The National Association of the Deaf was founded with their inaugural meeting aimed at strengthening and supporting the use of manual deaf education and sign language.
With the impactful work on the deaf community of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc at the American School for the Deaf, a new school was started in 1856 by US Postmaster General Amos Kendall with Edward Miner Gallaudet as its superintendent. This school, its work and impact on teaching and training deaf students is symbolized by the icon of the Tower Clock of Chapel Hall on the campus of Gallaudet University. The United States Congress chartered the new school for the education of deaf and blind children in 1857 with it being named the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. It was shortly after being chartered established as the first deaf university in America during the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
The name of the school was later changed to Gallaudet College (eventually became Gallaudet University) and it has been educating and training deaf students for over 150 years as it impacts our culture. In 1988, Gallaudet was the location of the "Deaf President Now Protest" that showed the strength of the deaf community in America and that it is stronger than ever as it fights for the Rights and Freedoms of others who are deaf.
Icon number 11 in this Deaf History Timeline is one of the first hearing aids ever invented to help the deaf and hard of hearing. Most of the hearing aids produced in the late 1800s were heavy and cumbersome. However, by the early 1900’s hearing aids had been developed that were much easier to use and transport. For the first time deaf and hearing impaired people could really hear sounds better.
As deaf education, effective communication and ASL for the deaf and hard of hearing were growing stronger in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the deaf community was also having a major impact on some of the sporting activities in America. The football and baseball icon is symbolic of how those two games were changed by deaf players. In baseball, outstanding Major League Baseball player, William "Dummy" Hoy changed the game by establishing the need for umpires to call balls, strikes and play calls with hand signals so that other players could read and understand what was going on in the game. Deaf football players also were part of changing one of the other major sports in America and that is football. In 1894 at Gallaudet University, football quarterback, Paul Hubbard noticed that other teams were seeing the hand signals of their football plays. So, to combat that, Hubbard had his football team huddle up so that the opposing teams could not read the signals for the play before the play was run. Therefore, through the efforts of deaf baseball players and football players American baseball and football have been changed forever.
Good jobs, regular work and new job opportunities were extremely limited for deaf people in the early 1900's. However, with the onset of World War I and World War II more significant and stable job opportunities became available for the deaf community. The iconic symbol for this new era of jobs and work availability for deaf people is of a Goodyear tire with a shovel and sledgehammer crossed in front of it. Goodyear was one of the major manufacturers that had a community of deaf people that worked in their plant to produce goods during wartime. This wartime phenomenon of developing manufacturing communities around plants and production sites became a trend that lasted well into the 20th century in America. It also encouraged new opportunities for jobs and stable employment for the deaf worker.
This icon in the Deaf History Timeline is of the TTY teletypewriter. It celebrates an amazing invention that radically changed the ability of deaf people to effectively communicate with others. During the early 1960's, deaf inventor Robert Weitbrecht created one of the most helpful inventions to aid deaf and hard of hearing people, the TTY teletypewriter machine which communicated over phone lines.
The dome of our United States Capitol building forms the next icon in the timeline of Deaf History. From the halls of The United States Congress in 1964 came the Report of the Advisory Committee on the Education of the Deaf and it was often referred to the Babbidge Report. While the Babbidge report did not directly renounce oralism, but hinted that more options including sign language ought to be explored and that: "There is no reason to believe that we have reached the limit of human potential in educating the deaf. The longer we delay in supporting substantial, well-planned programs of research into more effective ways of teaching language . . . the more we waste the potential talents and skills of those maturing young people whose only difference is that they cannot hear." (Babbidge, 1965, p. xvii)
Another giant step forward in the development of more effective communication for the deaf and hard of hearing was taken in the early 1970’s. This icon of a classic standing cabinet television illustrates another technology leap in the Deaf History Timeline. More effective communication came to the world of television in 1972 when Close Captioning for the deaf came to the television airways for the first time. A Boston, Massachusetts network, WGBH-TV, was the first to air a Closed Captioned show on television entitled, "The French Chef". Once again, more effective methods of communication for the deaf and hard of hearing community were accomplished.
In 1973 the US Congress passed The Rehabilitation Act. The TTY symbol forms the next icon in the timeline of Deaf History. This TTY sign illustrates that the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 produced federal assistance, provision and help for the deaf. This help came by way of governmental funding of TTY phones and interpreters to be available for better and more effective communication for those who needed these resources.
By 1985 advances in technological devices and equipment for aiding hearing had developed to a new level. For the first time, Cochlear Implants were approved to encourage and to enhance hearing for the first time. This icon of a Cochlear Implant device records this step on the Deaf History Timeline.
The iconic symbols of the Oscars Award and the tiara crown represents two things that had never happened before in America. In 1987, for the first time in history, a deaf woman, Marlee Matlin won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in the movie "Children of a Lesser God". Following this triumph, in 1995, a deaf woman, Heather Whitestone became the first Miss America. Here again, great strides were made in the visibility and public awareness of the strength, creativity and empowerment of the deaf community.
The “DEAF PREZ NOW” sign forms a historic icon in the Deaf History Timeline. The year of 1988 was a pivotal year in the national awareness of the strength and empowerment of the deaf community in America. That year the campus exploded with the upheaval of the “Deaf President Now Protest”. The students and their supporters won the protest by having the recently appointed, hearing president replaced with a new deaf president, I. King Jordan, who was elected as head of Gallaudet University. This election of President Jordan as a deaf president of Gallaudet was the first time in the history of the university that it had elected a non-hearing president. One of the signs of the solidarity of the students and their supporters for the election of a deaf president was a banner that was borrowed from Howard University from the days of the marches for Civil Rights with Dr. Martin Luther King. The bannered read, “We Still Have A Dream”, and the deaf community at Gallaudet University and across America showed during this protest in 1988 that they still did have a dream. This show of strength in the protest showed that the deaf community on campus and across America was stronger than ever before. The deaf and hard of hearing in the United States were strengthened, more recognized and encouraged because of their cohesive and resolute stand on their principles.
With this ever-growing empowerment and increasing strength of the deaf community in America, DEAF Inc. of St. Louis was established in 2008. The final icon in the Deaf History Timeline is that of the American Flag overlayed by the ASL symbol for an Interpreter and The St. Louis Arch. A part of the Mission and Vision of DEAF Inc. of St. Louis is to work for the Freedom and Justice of deaf and hard of hearing people in the region of St. Louis and to encourage effective communication for all people. They do this in part by providing legal assistance and interpreting services for those who have these needs. DEAF Inc. of St. Louis desires to Enlighten, Encourage, Educate and Empower the deaf community in their area and throughout America. They want to embolden those who are deaf and hard of hearing to have the Vision and the Courage to conquer their most difficult hurdle and to climb their most mountainous goal. DEAF Inc. knows that if they can Encourage the deaf community with that Passion and Mission for living, then anyone can reach their loftiest Dreams and Accomplish their greatest goals in life. And, when that happens, then the individual, the community and the country will be “Stronger Than Ever”.
The next symbol of this iconic Deaf History Timeline is the Italian flag stacked on top of the Spanish flag. It is symbolic of Geronimo Cardano of Padua, Italy. Cardano was a physician and he made one of the first attempts to teach his deaf son using a code of symbols. He thought that using symbols was the most successful way to teach his son to effectively communicate.
Below the Italian flag in this timeline is the Spanish flag that is over laden with the image of a monk or priest. In the late 1500's, at about the same time that Cardano was teaching his son, a Benedictine monk, Pedro Ponce de Leon in Spain, was having some success teaching deaf people to speak. Although Cardano and Ponce de Leon did not have far reaching impacts, their work and this period of deaf enlightenment and success encouraged Spanish Priest, Juan Pablo Bonet to write a book of alphabetic symbols that were used to communicate.
With the historical era of the Enlightenment came the timeline in Deaf History of the development of signs and symbols in Europe along with the unique growth of Martha's Vineyard's own sign language. During this same time frame, Abbé Charles-Michel de l'Épée, began the first deaf school in France. Because of his desire to help those in need, his deaf school was free to the public. The iconic symbol of the Eiffel Tower displayed on top of the German flag was indicative of how de l'Épée was committed to caring for the deaf in France and wrote a French dictionary of sign language that was also published for the public. Correspondingly, during this exact timeline in Europe, many were beginning to teach lipreading and oral communication skills to their deaf students. Simultaneously with de l'Épée in France, "The German Method" was the most used method of oral communication being taught throughout parts of Europe and was developed by a German educator named Samuel Heinicke.
After Bonet's book was written in Europe in 1620, there was an unusual occurrence happening at the end of the 17th century, around 1690 in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Icon number four is Gay Head Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse, on the island of Martha's Vineyard. The residents of Martha's Vineyard developed their own sign language because nearly 1/4 of their island population was deaf. This deaf culture was prevalent in their villages from 1690 until around 1880 to the point that sign language was used at many of their town meetings.
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