There were very limited options for deaf education in the early 1800's, especially in America. Two neighbors, Mason Fitch Cogswell and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet decided to do something about it.
Hooray! People like Alice Cogswell can finally learn!!!
Gallaudet traveled to Europe, and met Laurent Clerc, who agreed to come to America and help start a school for the deaf.
On the 52 day voyage back to America, Clerc taught Gallaudet the signing basics.
Is the same as...
On April 15, 1817, the school which opened with seven students. At first it was called the Connecticut Asylum at Hartford for the Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons, but it's called now the American School for the Deaf.
Gallaudet became the principal, and Clerc became the head teacher. As the school got older, new students ranging from 10 years of age to 51 started to come.
Because of Clerc's French background, he taught French Sign Language (FSL), but over time the students created their own form of sign language that we now know as American Sign Language (ASL). Because of this, two thirds of ASL signs are the same as FSL, and mean the same thing.