Described as a “world-renowned deaf activist” by the New York Times, Dr Barbara Kannapell is said to have legitimized American Sign Language (ASL) as a viable means of communication as well as to have empowered the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to embrace its unique culture.

Kannapell, whose death on August 11 at age 83 from complications related to hip surgery was announced by the Times, was born deaf. Though she was taught to communicate in ASL by her deaf parents, Kannapell’s grandmother insisted that she be enrolled in an oral school “which emphasizes speech, lip-reading, and the use of residual hearing” and forces students to try to speak, according to the Times. Kannapell’s experience with the school caused her to feel like a failure and also led her to believe that these schools have “contributed to self-hate and struggles with identity for generations of deaf people.”

The founder of DeafPride, a nonprofit that helped provide access to ASL classes and interpretation services for deaf people and their families, graduated from Gallaudet with a BA in deaf education and, later, from Georgetown with a doctoral degree.

To read the obituary in its entirety, please click here.

Source: NY Times

Image: Twitter