Gallaudet University is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language (ASL) and English.
The history of Gallaudet has been inextricably linked with the history of Deaf Culture in the U.S. since it was established in 1864. The University is viewed by deaf and hearing people alike as the premier resource for all things related to deaf people, including: educational and career opportunities; open communication and visual learning; deaf history and culture; American Sign Language; and the impact of technology on the deaf community.
Gallaudet leads the nation in research on communication access technology and services; deaf history and culture; and is a National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center, which conducts research on visual language and visual learning. In addition, the University recently established a ground-breaking doctoral program in educational neuroscience.
There are currently almost 1,500 students at Gallaudet, of which approximately 1,000 are undergraduates. Undergraduate students can choose from more than 40 majors, including a ‘self-directed major’, leading to Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees. Graduate programs, open to deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing students, include Master of Arts or Master of Science, specialist degrees, certificates, and doctoral degrees in a variety of fields involving professional services to deaf and hard of hearing people. A small number of hearing undergraduate students — up to eight percent of the undergraduate student body — are also admitted to the University each year.
The campus at Gallaudet was designed in 1866 by Frederick Law Olmsted, best-known as the designer of Central Park in New York, together with his partner Calvert Vaux. Olmsted and Vaux said of their layout for the campus that, since the students were unable to hear, extra care should be taken to engage the senses of sight and smell.
Since its origins in the mid-1860s the campus has grown exponentially, and today totals 99 acres. The campus’ historic district, which is noted nationally for its significance on the National Register of Historic Places, encompasses some 14 acres, including the entire area planned by Olmsted and Vaux.