Exclusive interviews with contemporary newsmakers                  

Harry G. Lang
Scientist, teacher, advocate

When Harry G. Lang was a student at Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, he was interested in pursuing a scientific career. Curious, he searched for books about deaf scientists, and found next to nothing. Only later, after he had begun teaching, did he learn about the youthful British astronomer John Goodricke, who discovered the binary star Algol.

Thanks to Lang, countless teachers and students now have easily-accessible information, not only about Goodricke, but also many others who made noteworthy contributions to the fields of astronomy, chemistry, bryology, medicine . . . all sorts of endeavors, including the arts. They were born deaf, early-deafened, progressively deafened, hard-of-hearing, and had one thing in common: they refused to be deterred.

After graduating from WPSD, Lang earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Bethany College (West Virginia), his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from RIT, and his doctorate in Education from University of Rochester.

Lang not only taught graduate students in NTID's Master of Science in Secondary Education program for 41 years, he has also encouraged deaf students to explore and pursue science-related careers. He has also made noteworthy historical and biographical contributions to the field of Deaf Studies, and continues to research and document the “forgotten” contributions of deaf scientists and mathematicians.

This is an incomplete listing of Lang’s books: Silence of the Spheres: The Deaf Experience in the History of Science (1994), Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences: a Biographical Encyclopedia (with Bonnie Meath-Lang, 1995), Signs for Science and Mathematics: a Resource Book for Teachers and Students (1996), A Phone of Our Own: the Deaf Insurrection Against Ma Bell (2000), Educating Deaf Students: From Research to Practice (with Marc M. Marschark, 2001), From Dream to Reality: A History of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology (with Karen K. Conner, 2001), Edmund Booth, Deaf Pioneer (2004), Teaching From the Heart and Soul: the Life and Work of Robert F. Panara (2007), Moments of Truth: the Journey of Robert R. Davila, Deaf Educator (with Oscar P. Cohen and Joseph E. Fischgrund, 2007).

In progress: Teaching Mathematics to Deaf Students (with Claudia Pagliaro and Christopher Kurz), Consider Him a Friend: Abraham Lincoln and Deaf People (with Michael Jones), and Deaf People and Deafness During the American Civil War.

Lang’s books have become standard references and make absorbing reading. Silence of the Spheres, inspired by his encounter with renowned British theoretical physicist-cosmologist Stephen Hawking, recounts the achievements of dozens of deaf scientists through the ages. A Phone of Our Own tells the fascinating story of how a trio of deaf men, frustrated with the inaccessibility of the telephone, accomplished what the mighty and well-funded AT&T research labs could not (and would not). Ironically, they didn’t realize any profit from their invention, but had the satisfaction of knowing that they had started a technological and social revolution. Deaf Persons in the Arts and Sciences is an essential starting point for anyone doing historical research. Moments of Truth and Edmund Booth: Deaf Pioneer were chosen (respectively) for the National Literary Society of the Deaf’s “Deaf America Reads” 2008 and 2010 campaigns.

Lang has also contributed chapters to anthologies, and articles to scholarly journals such as Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, American Annals of the Deaf, and publications by and for science and math teachers.

Other high points have included: RIT’s Eisenhart Outstanding Teacher Award for 1983, Alumni Achievement Award in Education, Bethany College (1994); Outstanding Alumni Award, WPSD (1994); Edmund Lyon Founders Award for “exceptional professional contributions to the education of persons who are deaf,” Rochester School for the Deaf (2001); TDI’s James C. Marsters Promotion Award “for outstanding contributions to improving the visual accessibility of information, entertainment or telecommunications in the United States through their efforts in promotion, marketing, or public relations” (2001); CEASD’s Edward Allen Fay Award in Recognition of Significant Literary Contributions to the Field of Deafness (2001); WPSD Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus Award (2003); Trustees Scholarship Award “in recognition of establishing an outstanding record of academic scholarship,” Rochester Institute of Technology, 2006; serving as Senior Advisor to the production team of the PBS documentary Through Deaf Eyes (2007), produced by filmmakers Larry Hott and Diane Garey of Florentine Films; Professor Emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology, 2012; the honorary doctorate he recently received from Gallaudet University, “and, of course, being married to Bonnie (smile).”

He says: “When I look back at my 41 years at NTID, the number-one highlight was the beautiful bonds I had formed with my students. This was also evident when I received the honorary doctorate last month and three of my graduate students for whom I served as a thesis mentor surprised me at the ceremony. I [had not yet] seen any photographs of the honorary-degree ceremony from Gallaudet, but Gary and Jeannie Behm from NTID (I taught Gary in 1974), who were there for their son’s graduation, sent me some.

“I don’t think I will ever ‘retire.’ I am currently finishing my second year of a five-year National Science Foundation grant project to develop science sign dictionaries using Avatar technologies, and continue to be active in projects related to science and mathematics for deaf children. Last year, I published an article titled ‘The Contributions of Deaf People to Entomology: A Hidden Legacy’ in a journal titled Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews. There were 15-20 plates of four photographs each in the lengthy article and I had a wonderful time researching that field of science I had not previously explored in depth. Among the exciting findings was the deaf assistant to Darwin on the HMS Beagle Voyage. They became lifelong friends. There is so much still waiting to be discovered through historical research, and I am very happy to have added this dimension to Deaf Studies in a significant way.”

Deaf Person of the Year
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
Robert Davila
John Yeh
Luke Adams
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Robert Davila
John Yeh
Luke Adams
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2017
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2016
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2015
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2014
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
Kurt
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2013
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
John Yeh
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2012
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
John Yeh
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2011
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
John Yeh
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2010
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
John Yeh
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2009
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
John Yeh
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2008
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
Robert Davila
Kevin Frost
Ed Bosson
Leon Lim
John Yeh
Marlee Matin
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
Deaf Person of the Month: archives 2007
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
Robert R. Davila
Lizzie Sorkin
E. Lynn Jacobowitz
Joey Baer
Donald Tinsley, Sr.
Howie Seago
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
Bernard Bragg
Alice Hagemeyer
Carole Lazorisak
Ben Soukup
Tony Saccente
Fred Beam

Any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns you’d like to share?  Contact us at editor@deafpeople.com.
Copyright © 2007 - 2016 MSM Productions Ltd. All Rights Reserved.