Bill Stokoe (1919-2000), the father of deaf American Sign Language,
was a lone-wolf researcher into this sign language field in an
era where no one, both deaf and hearing, showed too much interest!
At Gallaudet where he was employed as English professor and as
researcher, mid-fifties through the eighties, he was so fascinated
with sign language that it became an obsession with him. No one,
not even the Gallaudet administration were supportive of his work.
Still, he continued to labor on.
As time went on, he became more famous when people realized that
ASL was a language instead of just moving fingers and hands around.
And he became an idol in the Deaf Community – and here lies the
big irony – he could never master the signs that he was so