William J. Marra Museum of Deaf History & Deaf Culture

455 East Park Street
Olathe, Kansas 66061
(913) 782-5808

Tuesday - Friday: 10AM - 4PM       Saturday 10AM - 3PM

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William J. Marra Museum of Deaf History and Deaf Culture
Deaf Cultural Center and William J. Marra Museum - Olathe, Kansas

The William J. Marra Museum of Deaf History and Deaf Culture at the Kansas School for the Deaf has two exhibit halls and tells two stories. The first half of the museum is devoted to Deaf culture and the second half is devoted to the history of the Kansas School for the Deaf.

The 12 minute video that starts a visit to the Marra Museum explains that there are two different communities of those without hearing, those that are deaf (with a little "d") and those that are Deaf (with a capital "D"). 

The deaf community is the majority of those who have hearing loss and do not use American Sign Language. They are mainly people who become deaf later in life. They are likely to speak fluently, understand spoken language with the help of hearing aids and identify themselves as part of the hearing community. They may call themselves hearing impaired or hard of hearing.

The Deaf community is composed mostly of those who have been deaf since birth or very early childhood. Sign language is the first language of those people who identify with Deaf culture and community. The Marra Museum explains how sign language and Deaf culture developed, while also stressing that there are few differences in potential and ability between people who are with or without hearing.

Admission to the Marra Museum of Deaf History & Deaf Culture is free, though a $2 donation is encouraged. Although some visitors will view the 12 minute video, then hurry through the rest of the museum, I believe that the typical visit will be about and hour.

12 minute video titled A Different Way To Hear

A S L - American Sign Language
American Sign Language is linguistically complete and shares no grammatical similarities with English.
In terms of syntax, ASL shares more with spoken Japanese.

American Deaf history

Electronic aids for the deaf at the Museum of Deaf History and Deaf Culture
Electronic aids for the deaf.

Exhibit about the history of the Kansas State School for the Deaf. The school was started as the Asylum for the
Deaf and Dumb in nearby Baldwin City in 1861 and moved to Olathe in 1865. The name changed twice, becoming
the School for the Deaf. In 1905, the Kansas legislature enacted a law that made attendance of all deaf persons
between the ages of six and twenty one compulsory unless they attended another special school.

Telecommunication solutions for the deaf.

Administration building for the Kansas School for the Deaf.
Kansas School for the Deaf administration building.

Deaf Cultural Center & William J. Marra Museum  website
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copyright 2009-2010 by Keith Stokes