The inspiration for the first school for the deaf began with two neighbors, Dr. Mason Cogswell and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Cogswell was inispired by his neighbors attempts to communicate with his deaf daughter, Alice.
Cogswell convinced Gallaudet to travel to Europe to learn communication methods. Gallaudet met a deaf priest, Laurent Clerc who had developed methods of manual communications.
Gallaudet returned to Connecticut with Clerc. Together they worked to develop what we now know as American Sign Language
With support fom Cogswell and other philanthropists, Clerc and Gallaudet established a formal school for the deaf.
April 15, 1817 The Connecticut Asylum at Hartford for the Instruction of Deaf and Dumb people held its first class for seven full-time students, Including Cogswell's daughter, Alice.
In 1819 the school became the first example of state-sponsored education in US history. In 1820 it was the first recipient of Federal aid for Special Education.