People - Andrew Foster

Father of Deaf African Education

Letter A in American Sign Language
About Andrew Foster. Kathy Dewar / Getty Images

Dr. Andrew Foster is an important figure in both African American history and deaf history. Not only did he establish many schools for the deaf in Africa, he also was the first African American to graduate from Gallaudet University (then Gallaudet College), which also granted him an honorary doctorate. Foster died in 1987 at the age of 62. To learn more about Foster's life, readers may wish to consult the following resources:

Web Biographies

  • Christian Mission for the Deaf - Dr. Foster was a religious man, and he founded this organization for deaf Africans. The organization's web site discusses Foster's work and has two photographs showing Foster with students.
  • NBDA - Andrew Foster - One-page biography of Foster, with color photograph.


Deaf Mosaic segment - Episode #404 of the Gallaudet University-produced Deaf Mosaic had a tribute to Andrew Foster after he died. The tribute includes home movies of Foster and his work in Africa.


Great Deaf Americans - This book from Deaf Life Press has a chapter on Andrew Foster.

Movers & Shakers - This book from DawnSignPress has a chapter on Foster, "Bringing Hope to Deaf Africans."

Foster's Own Writings

The Christian Mission for the Deaf's website has archived samples of Foster's writings about the religious and educational needs of deaf Africans.

Honoring Andrew Foster

National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) spearheaded a successful effort to raise funds to produce a statue honoring Foster.

According to a fundraising brochure from the NBDA, it was the first time an African American deaf person was honored. In May 2004, the NBDA presented Gallaudet University with a bust of Foster sculpted by Virginia Cox. The Spring 2005 issue of Gallaudet Today had a full page picture of the sculpture on its inside back page.

Gallaudet University also honored foster in Fall 2004 by dedicating an auditorium in Foster's name.

In addition, Gallaudet University has an Andrew Foster Endowment Fund (in cooperation with the NBDA) that supports the Andrew Foster Scholarship for African American deaf students at Gallaudet. To find out how to donate to the Andrew Foster Endowment Fund, contact the Development Office at Gallaudet University.

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