Daniel Higgins
Called to serve as a redemptorist Priest in 1896, Daniel Higgins was ordained July 4, 1906 and soon after, while serving as a seminary professor at the Kirkwood, Missouri seminary, observed some deaf boys signing. He wrote a note to the boys asking where they attended school. Upon discovering that they were attending St. Joseph's Institute for the Deaf, Higgins made a visit to the school the following week and began taking sign language classes there. Although he had a heart for ministering to deaf parishioners, Daniel Higgins believed that a combined ministry that kept him in touch with the broader society as well was the best approach. His ministry and philosophy of ministry influenced many seminaries in offering sign language classes. As a result of the demand for these classes, Higgins developed his book, "How to Talk to the Deaf" in 1923. In 1949, he was instrumental in the establishment of the International Catholic Deaf Association in Canada and was known for his "lifelong war against oralists". His cross-country travels enabled him to identify and incorporate standard signs into his dictionary which was the reference book used in the production of the film, "Johnny Belinda". In one admonition, Higgins is remembered as saying, "remember, the sign language is not a wordy language, it is ideaographic (sic.), pantomimic. Remember, also, that when we are talking to the Deaf, we are not teaching them grammar but only exchanging ideas."
(Source: "Let us now praise great men: A centenary tribute to all the redemptorists who made the St. Louis province 1875-1975". Unusual Man Daniel D. Higgins. No. 14 of the Redemptorist records)