by Emil S. Ladner

It would be impossible, in this brief history, to recount all of the legislative, educational, economic, social, and other actions that have been undertaken by the California Association of the Deaf (CAD) throughout the last 100 years.  The Association has been the vigilant “watchdog” in protecting and promoting the rights and privileges of the deaf citizens of the state of California.

Many measures have been taken to elimininate discrimination by employers, insurance companies, government and state agencies, and the general public.  It has been continuous fight to acquire the rights of the hearing impaired youth to appropriate education, and to maintain vocational training in the schools for the deaf.  The CAD has advocated the use of the combined system of total communication in all such schools.

The CAD hasn urged the placement of telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDDs) in hospitals, police stations, government, and state offices, and other public buildings in order to provide full access to public services.

The Association has supported and demanded that qualified interpreters be employed to provide the needed services in courtrooms, in schools in which deaf students have been mainstreamed, on television for important speeches, and announcements, and for public meetings that concerns the welfares of the deaf.

The CAD has made tremendous effort to inform the general public, and especially employers, on the abilities and skills of deaf persons “on the job.”  It has struggled to reduce the ignorance of the population, specifically in the state of California, through various information outlets.  Although deaf persons continue to experience discrimination in their daily lives, there has been much progress through the years.

In many ways, the CAD has been successful in alerting the public to the problems confronting deaf persons.  Public officials have been informed of the imposters and peddlers who prey on public sympathy.  Surveys have been conducted in the effort to provide vaild information and statistics on the deaf population.

Although there is much more to accomplish, progress has been made and improvements have taken place, and there would never have been achieved without the invalueable assistance and deep dedication of deaf individuals and their hearing friends.

The original book containing the recorded minutes of the CAD meetings for the years 1906 – 1916 has been lost.  Fortunately, the Conventions and Board meetings held during these years were recorded in the California News, the paper of the California School for the Deaf, which was the first official publication of the CAD.  These reports have been reproduced and now filed in a loose-leaf binder.  For this, we are indebted to John Galvin.

Five books containing minutes of the CAD meetings and a scrapbook have been preserved and were helpful in compiling this brief history.  This book containing the minutes for 1917 and later years in a hodge podge of scrap papers pasted among handwritten and typed minutes of business meetings.  The other four books were neatly kept by the secretaries.  The scrapbook coveres the War years, 1941-1946, with clippings from newspapers and the Silent Broadcaster, and some correspondence.

How the Association began is recorded in President Howson’s first annual report of April 1908 in the California News :

“The CAD had its incipiency in the meeting of a dozen interested persons at the studio of Douglas Tilden on October 22, 1905.  A committee were selected to compile data for organization, and early in the year 1906, a constitution and set of by-laws were drafted.”

Theophilius d’Estrella, secretary of the Committee on Organization, sent letters to approximately 200 persons and the response was favorable regarding the establishment of the Association.

A meeting was held on December 22-23, 1906, at the School for the Deaf (Berkeley) – the First Convention.  Originally, the meeting had been scheduled for June, but was postponed due to the earthquake on April 18th.