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National Association of the Deaf:

By: Christine Wall



     The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is an important organization that was established by and for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals to improve the quality of the Deaf and advocate for Deaf rights in all aspects of Deaf life.

     In 1850 the idea of establishing a national organization for Deaf individuals was discussed at gatherings in Hartford, Connecticut where the first School for the Deaf, The American School for the Deaf, was established.  With many obstacles in the way the idea was persisted and resulted in the development of the New England Gallaudet Association.  The reason for the importance of a national association was, "Deaf Americans were beginning to realize that if anyone was going to resolve their problems it would have to be themselves.  They were concerned about the educational conditions in schools for the deaf and about the methods of instruction.  Pure oralism was threatening the learning freedom of deaf children and the employment of deaf teachers" (Gannon, 1981).  Also, was the urgency for the public to understand Deaf individuals and their capabilities as a regular human being.

     There were 3 very important men that lead the development of NAD:  Edmund Booth, Robert P. McGregor, and Edwin A. Hodgson.  The one that is truly known for establishing NAD was Edwin Hodgson.  Veditz (7th president of NAD) called Hodgson, "the father and founder of the National Association of the Deaf" (Gannon, 1981).

      In 1880 the first convention of the NAD was held in Cincinnati, Ohio. This is where Robert P. McGregor was principal of the School for the Deaf.  He was always a big supporter for the causes of the Deaf community, so he was then elected as the first president of the NAD. Twenty-one states were represented at the first convention.  During that same time there was an International convention in Milan, Italy, hearing educators of the deaf were trying to pass a resolution that would affect the Deaf community. They voted overwhelmingly to ban the use of sign language to teach deaf children and only wanted the pure oralism method to be used. The group opposed a compromise, but the Americans wanted a combine method of speech and sign language (Garretson, 1996).

     In 1883, the second convention was held in New York, and Edwin Hodgson was elected president.  The importance of this convention was the development of creating a statue in honor of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.  It was placed on the deaf college campus in Washington DC (Gannon, 1981).

     During the 3rd convention, "mutes" was dropped from the title of National Association of the Deaf-Mutes (Gannon, 1981).

     George Veditz was also important person in the history of the National Association of the Deaf.  He was the 7th president, he was elected in 1904 and then reelected in 1907.  He was the one that preserved sign language.  At that time sign language was being threatened by oral schools to ban it, and he wanted to make sure it was not lost.  He gathered money through NAD to finance the making of video and speeches in sign language (Van Cleve, 1987).

In 1960, A Junior National Association of the Deaf was founded.  It was for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in grades 7 to 12.  It was established to provide Deaf students the opportunity to learn leadership skills.  Chapters of the Jr. NAD can be found in residential Schools for the Deaf and other Schools for the Deaf (Garretson, 1996).

     NAD has supported many causes in the years since it has been established in the Deaf community. It has created awareness and protected Deaf rights.  They supported students and staff at Gallaudet University in the Deaf President Now movement protest in March of 1988.  Also, in 1990 NAD fought for the rights of Deaf individuals to be included in "The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  NAD always fights for the rights for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals to use ASL and to be provided with Interpreters (Erting, 1994).

   NAD describes their aims and objectives:  "The Mission of NAD is to promote, protect and preserve the civil, human, and linguistic rights of the deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States" (NAD, 2013).

     Today, the National Association of the Deaf is still a strong and vibrant organization as it was when it was first established.  It has changed the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.  It has given awareness to the general public, fought for many of their rights as humans, and established ASL as a language.  If it was not for this organization many rights would have been violated, and the Deaf community would not be strong and connected as it is today.



Gannon, J. (1981).  Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf American. Silver Springs, Maryland:  National Association of the Deaf. (page 62).

Garretson, M.D. (Ed) (1996).  Deafness:  Historical Perspectives:  A Deaf American Monograph.  Silver Springs, Maryland:  National Association of the Deaf.

Van Cleve, J. (1987).  Gallaudet Encyclopedia of Deaf People and Deafness.  Gallaudet University, Washington DC.:  McGraw-Hill.

Erting, C. (1994).  The Deaf Way.  Washington DC:  Gallaudet University Press.

NAD (2013).  NAD.  Silver Springs, Maryland:  National Association of the Deaf.

[End of Christine Wall's Article]

Editorial Notes and various Archives:

"The National Association of the Deaf was founded by deaf people in 1853. Deaf people realized that if anyone was to resolve their problems, it would have to be themselves. At their first convention in 1880, the delegates resolved " .. to bring the close contact and to deliberate on the needs of the deaf as a class. We have interests peculiar to ourselves which can be taken care of by ourselves." The NAD routinely publishes and books and articles on deafness. Since 1971, the national headquarters has been located in Silver Spring, Maryland."(Source:  "National Association of the Deaf" from On the Other Hand by Dr. Elaine Costello. South Carolina Department of Education, 1992. p. 14")

The NAD used to publish a newspaper called "The Broadcaster."  Now it publishes the "NADmag" and the NADezine.  NADezine subscriptions are open to anyone-- NAD membership is not required. Published twice a month, the NADezine averages over 2,000 subscribers with an estimated readership of over 4,000 due to forwarded emails."  (Source: 3/1/05)

To give you a better understanding of the NAD I'm providing below a sample of a membership renewal confirmation email that they sent me (minus personal information). [-- Bill Vicars]

5/23/2006 7:04:13 AM PST
Thank you for renewing your NAD membership. Please save this email or print it out for your records.
Your profile information is included below:
Name:             William Vicars
Address line 1:
Address line 2:
Your payment information:
Payment: 40.00
Donation: .00
Payment ID: 

You will receive your new NAD membership card with your new expiration date in the mail. Don't forget that your NAD memberhsip benefits include:

  • One year subscription to the NADmag, a full-color magazine distributed six times a year
  • Discount on NAD Biennial Conference registration
  • Access to the Members Only Area of the NAD website

Take full advantage of the NAD website -- use your username and password to access the NAD Members Only Area at Take Action on issues that impact the deaf and hard of hearing community at Visit the NAD website often to keep up with news, issues, and NAD Conference details!

If you do not have a username and password for the NAD website, please register now at:

Moving soon? Changing your email address? You can edit your profile information online at:

Please contact me at:

Kelly K. Aziz
Nad Membership Department

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