29¢ Recognizing Deafness
Issue Date: September 20, 1993
City: Burbank, CA
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
As many well-known individuals such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Helen Keller, and Marlee Matlin have proven, deafness need not hinder one’s achievements. Thanks to the work of pioneers like Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet and Alexander Graham Bell, deaf people lead very rich and fulfilling lives.
Using a philosophy known as “total communication,” which includes sign language, lip reading, and oral speech, deaf people can now communicate with one another, as well as with hearing individuals. Today many deaf people in the U.S. use American Sign Language (ASL), which is based on ideas and concepts, rather than individual words. The “I Love You” sign featured on this stamp is one such sign. It combines three letters from the manual alphabet (where different finger positions represent each letter of the alphabet) - I Love You - to form one sign.
Developed in France at the Institute Royal des Sourds-Muets, the manual (or sign) method was brought to the U.S. by Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, who together with Laurent Clerc founded the Hartford School for the Deaf in 1817. His son Edward later founded Gallaudet University - a liberal arts college exclusively for the deaf - in Washington, D.C.