The nation’s first college for deaf students traces its beginning to this date in 1857, when Congress incorporated the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf, Dumb and Blind. In 1864, the school was federally chartered to confer degrees, the first three of which were awarded in 1869. Those diplomas were signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, and all subsequent diplomas awarded by the school bear the U.S. President’s signature. In 1954, the name of the institution was changed to Gallaudet College in honor of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a pioneer is educating deaf students. An estimated 9 million Americans are functionally deaf or hard of hearing. About 1,700 of them are seeking a degree from Gallaudet and are among the nation’s nearly 19.2 million students enrolled in universities. Profile America is in its19th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.