In 1817, the first American School for the Deaf opened in Hartford, Connecticut. Two hundred years later, Fresno State will recognize this anniversary with a series of events from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, April 28, on campus.

“Our 200th Anniversary of Deaf Education event will be the largest event on the West coast,” said Dr. Janice Smith-Warshaw, director of the deaf education programs at Fresno State. “The goal is to recognize and show an appreciation for the history of deaf education and to build awareness about this wonderful community of deaf and hard of hearing individuals right here in the Valley. We want participants to see their heritage has a place in history.”

Kicking off the event will be the Celebration of Diversity from 9 a.m. to noon, bringing hundreds of K-12 students who are deaf or hard of hearing from throughout Fresno Unified and neighboring school districts to campus to enjoy a morning of fun activities and entertainment. Exhibition booths will be on display to provide information.



Providing keynote remarks at that event will be Roberta J. Cordano, president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only university in the world specifically established for deaf and hard of hearing students. Middle school students from California School for the Deaf, Riverside, will perform a one-hour show, “Journey Through the Deaf Timeline.”

The Silent Garden Lecture, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the North Gym (Room 118), will provide information to professionals in the field on working with Latino families with deaf or hard of hearing children. Irma Sanchez, founder of Los Angeles-based nonprofit Deaf Latinos y Familias will present the lecture, which is designed for Fresno State students majoring in deaf education and interpreting.

“We hope students attending the lecture will learn how they can make a difference in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing children and gain knowledge of how to be culturally sensitive while working with Latino families,” said Dr. Paul Ogden, founder of The Silent Garden.


A public, communitywide event and social, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the North Gym (Room 118), will wrap up the day’s activities. A panelist of professionals, who are deaf and natives of the Valley, will discuss their success stories. After keynote remarks from Cordano, a Deaf Saturday Night Live skit will be performed.

Co-sponsors include the Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies, the President’s Commission on Human Relations and Equity, the ASL Club, Associated Students Inc., the Sorenson Video Relay Service, the California Association of the Deaf, Convo and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center.

For more information, contact Dr. Janice Smith-Warshaw at or 559.387.5303.

[The video above can be viewed with closed captions, in high definition on youtube.]

200th-Anniv-Deaf-Ed-Flyer with Logos_updated-page-001 (1)

View original press release.