Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Andrew Foster

Andrew Jackson Foster was born on 26 December, 1925 in Ensley, Alabama, USA and died on 3 December, 1987 in Rwanda, Africa at the age of 61 killed in an airplane accident.

Andrew Foster was a missionary to the Deaf in Africa from 1956 until his death in 1987. Andrew Foster became the first Black Deaf person to earn a bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet College and the first to earn a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. Eventually receiving a Master’s Degree from Seattle Pacific Christian College, he founded Christian Mission for Deaf Africans in 1956, and set for Liberia, Africa.

Andrew Foster was the son of a coal miner, he and his younger brother became deaf through spinal meningitis in 1936. Educational opportunities for African Americans in that era prevented him from achieving more than a 6th grade education. At the age of 16, he moved to Detroit, Michigan to live with his aunt and attended Bethany Pembroke church where he later committed his life to the call of Christ. Andrew Foster completed high school at Michigan School for the Deaf.

In 1961 Andrew Foster was married to Berta, a German, and together they have 5 children. Gallaudet College awarded him an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters in 1977 for his accomplishment.

Deaf Education in Africa

There Andrew Foster encountered cultures so oppressive of deaf people that parents often hid their deaf children at home or abandoned them altogether. Hearing missionaries told him that deaf children didn’t even exist in Africa but, he found deaf children and established schools for them.

The challenges for deaf ministry in central and west Africa were two-fold: not only were there no churches for the deaf in the most populous regions of Africa, but there were no schools for the deaf. Consequently, the deaf were completely illiterate. The most a deaf person could hope for was to become the family servant and use rudimentary signs invented by the family. In remote villages, some deaf children were thought to be cursed by demons and abandoned to be eaten by wild animals.

Andrew Foster began his work in 1956 by convincing school officials to let him use their classrooms after hours to teach the deaf. In Ghana he found a public school willing to allow him to teach the deaf, and within months the school had a waiting list of over 300 families wanting to send their deaf children to his school. As the deaf began to become literate, Andrew Foster would supplement their education with trade skills, and, most importantly, teach Christianity lessons. Andrew Foster convinced existing churches and missions to expand their ministry to include the deaf.

After staying on as the administrator of the school for three years, Andrew Foster moved on to Nigeria to repeat the successes he had seen in Ghana. It was in Ibadan, Nigeria, that he would eventually set up his headquarters and create a teacher-training facility as he continued to expand his work to over thirty countries in the West and Central regions of Africa. Andrew Foster’s work included schools, Sunday schools, churches, youth camps and teacher-training facilities reaching tens of thousands of deaf-teaching many of them not only their own names, but additional to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

During 30 years of service Andrew Foster founded 31 schools and 2 centers, successively in Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Togo, Chad, Senegal, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire (presently Democratic Republic of Congo), Burkina Faso, Burundi and Gabon. About the same number of Sunday Schools and churches were established in those countries, and also in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Congo and Guinea. For much of his life Andrew Foster spent 6 months of the year in Africa establishing schools and the other 6 months in the United State raising money to support these schools. In 1977, the name was changed to Christian Mission for the Deaf.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Harold MacGrath

Harold MacGrath was born on 4 September, 1871 and died on 30 October, 1932. Harold MacGrath was an American author, Harold MacGrath was a bestselling American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. In an article in the 23 April, 1932 issue of The Saturday Evening Post written under the title “The Short Autobiography of a Deaf Man,” Harold MacGrath told the public how he had struggled early in life as a result of a hearing impairment. At a time in history when deaf people were almost automatically considered as lacking intellectual acuity, he had hid this from his employer and others. Harold MacGrath’s success made him a very wealthy man and although he travelled the world extensively.

Harold McGrath is also known occasionally as Harold McGrath, he was born in Syracuse, New York. As a young man, he worked as a reporter and columnist on the Syracuse Herald newspaper until the late 1890s when he published his first novel, a romance titled “Arms and the Woman.” According to the New York Times, his next book, “The Puppet Crown,” was the No.7 bestselling book in the United States for all of 1901. From that point on, Harold MacGrath never looked back, writing novels for the mass market about love, adventure, mystery, spies, and the like at an average rate of more than one a year. Harold McGrath would have 3 more of his books that were among the top ten bestselling books of the year. At the same time, he penned a number of short stories for major American magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and Red Book magazine. Several of Harold MacGrath’s novels were serialized in these magazines and contributing to them was something he would continue to do until his death in 1932.

In 1912, Harold MacGrath became one of the first nationally-known authors to write directly for the movies when he was hired by the American Film Company to do the screenplay for a short film in the Western genre titled “The Vengeance That Failed.” Harold MacGrath had 18 of his 40 novels and 3 of his short stories made into films plus he wrote the story for another 4 motion pictures. 3 of his books were also made into Broadway plays. 1 of the many films made from Harold MacGrath’s writings was the 1913 serial The Adventures of Kathlyn starring Kathlyn Williams. While writing the 13 episodes he simultaneously wrote the book that was published immediately after the 29 December, 1913 premiere of the first episode of the serial so as to be in book stores during the screening of the entire 13 episodes.

Among Harold MacGrath’s short stories made into film was the 1920 Douglas Fairbanks Production Company’s feature-length adventure film The Mollycoddle based on Harold MacGrath’s short story with the same title that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in 1913. Directed by Victor Fleming, it starred Fairbanks, Ruth Renick, and Wallace Beery and was distributed through the newly created United Artists. It is said that during this same time, a young Boris Karloff, who previously had a few uncredited film roles, chose his stage name for his first screen credit in 1920 from the Harold MacGrath novel “The Drums of Jeopardy” which had also been published by The Saturday Evening Post in January of that year and which featured a Russian mad scientist character named “Boris Karlov.” The name “Boris Karlov” was used from Harold MacGrath’s book for the 1922 Broadway play, but by 1923 with actor Boris Karloff using the similar sounding variation, the film version renamed the character as “Gregor Karlov.”

Harold MacGrath’s success made him a very wealthy man and although he traveled the world extensively, Syracuse, New York was his home and it was there in 1912 that he built an English country-style mansion renowned for its landscaped gardens. In an article in the April 23, 1932 issue of The Saturday Evening Post written under the title “The Short Autobiography of a Deaf Man,” MacGrath told the public how he had struggled early in life as a result of a hearing impairment. At a time in history when deaf people were almost automatically considered as lacking intellectual acuity, he had hid this from his employer and others. Harold MacGrath died at his home in Syracuse a few months after the article was published.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend William Elsworth

William Elsworth, Dummy Hoy, was born on 23 May, 1862 and died on 15 December, 1961. William Elsworth was an American center fielder in Major League Baseball who played for several teams from 1888 to 1902, most notably the Cincinnati Reds and two Washington, D.C. franchises. William Elsworth is noted for being the most accomplished deaf player in major league history, and is credited by some sources with causing the establishment of signals for safe and out calls. William Elsworth became deaf after suffering from meningitis at age of 3, and went on to graduate from the Ohio State School for the Deaf in Columbus as class valedictorian. William Elsworth became the 3rd deaf player in the major leagues, after pitcher Ed Dundon and catcher Tom Lynch. William Elsworth also worked as an executive with Goodyear after supervising hundreds of deaf workers during World War I. In 1951 he was the first deaf athlete elected to membership in the American Athletic Association of the Deaf Hall of Fame.

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