Thomas Gallaudet

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was an American educator who co-founded the first permanent institution for the education of the deaf in North America, and he became its first principal. It opened in 1817 as the "Connecticut Asylum (at Hartford) for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons," known today as the American School for the Deaf.

Gallaudet may have been the first reading teacher who taught whole words. And the words were accompanied by the pictures popular in word method or "look-say" readers. The connection between letters and sounds in an alphabetic language like English would not have been useful for his deaf pupils, so GAllaudet was teaching the association between a picture of something and its word/name, for example "cat" and a picture of a cat.

After some fifty or so cards with "sight words" and their accompanying pictures, Gallaudet taught the alphabet letters, so the children could spell and write.