The Hogwarts of the Deaf Community

Gallaudet University is the “Hogwarts School” for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing students. It has built up an extraordinary student-based community unlike anything else in the whole world. This institution is based on Washington, D.C. and was founded in 1864. In 1988 I. King Jordan was elected as the First Deaf President at Gallaudet University. One of the things he said that has resonated throughout not only the Deaf community but also around the world is: “Deaf people can do anything that hearing people can except hear.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by GallaudetU (@gallaudetu) on Sep 28, 2015 at 5:25pm PDT

 

In a YouTube video titled “How Harry Potter Parallels to the Deaf World” Nyle DiMarco explains, “Harry Potter along with many other wizards along with many other wizard children waits impatiently for the acceptance letter to Hogwarts. When they get the letter, it’s like a dream come true because Hogwarts is like a home filled with wizards and no one feels different anymore. This parallels the Deaf world. So many Deaf kids grow up waiting impatiently to go to Gallaudet University”. In itself, this school already represents so much to the Deaf community. DiMarco goes on to say, “The reason why is simple: It is like a Deaf World. You don’t see a hearing person on campus at all. There are all Deaf students, Deaf professors, Deaf Superintendent. Everybody is Deaf. And everybody understands each other. Gallaudet University makes Deaf people feel like home. Just like Harry Potter impatiently waits for Hogwarts because...it is his home.”

That same passion that American model, actor, and deaf activist Nyle DiMarco presents towards the university is the same passion as the passion that students in this university connect with. Gallaudet provides education and architecture specifically designed for Deaf people and hard-of-hearing college students. They don’t focus on only the students at the university level but also offer exemplary education for kids during their infancy, elementary school, and high school experiences. The institution also offers admission “to a select group of hearing undergraduate students who know American Sign Language (ASL) and would like to study alongside deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals” so to all us hearing people out there, you also have an opportunity to take on the experience of a lifetime in learning more about ASL and building relationships with different people from around the world.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by GallaudetU (@gallaudetu) on Dec 2, 2016 at 4:47am PST

Even the university’s architecture is interesting in its own way. The classroom and the mobility on campus are made in such a way that you can get around easier and students can have better communication through sensory stimulations. For example, the classrooms are organized in a semi-circle or u-shaped space for the students to have a clear range of vision with other students around the room so they can communicate better through sign language.

The university’s walkways, stairs, and ramps are another example is in terms of mobility. All these places of people traffic have wide space to the sides so people can easily sign better to each other. Due to the importance of the visible environment, there are transparent elevators and glass doors so you can have a “shared sensory reach”. This means that you are able to communicate easily with other people. Reflection is also a fundamental part in the buildings’ structures because if you have a mirror or something that resembles a mirror as a frame of a bulletin board, Deaf people can see when there’s someone behind them. All this is known as DeafSpace, a term that was brought up by Derrick Behm who works in the Office of Campus Design and Planning at Gallaudet University.

Hearing people need to become more aware and more empathetic towards the Deaf community that surrounds us. A great place to start is by learning at the very least the basics of sign language. Gallaudet University offers free ASL courses online through ASL Connect to learn the basics, having videos of people showing you the correct ways to sign. Don’t be afraid and take on the challenge!

If you want to learn more about Gallaudet University you can visit them on their website and also on their Instagram page where they upload videos and pictures of any type of information or events happening on campus.