Building The World’s First Town For Signers: Laurent, SD

by Lynnette

South Dakota Travel

Have you heard?…

There’s a new town on the drawing block, and it’s centered entirely around those who use sign language as a primary means of communication.

Here's a city dedicated to serving the hard of hearing

The plan is to build a town in South Dakota (near Sioux Falls) and call it Laurent — in honor of Laurent Clerc, a deaf man who brought sign language to America from France in 1815.

  • All business will be conducted in sign language.
  • Approximately 2,500 residents will live within a 1/2-square mile. Already, there are over 100 families who have reserved their spot in this one-of-a-kind town(*).
  • Ground breaking will take place in the Spring of 2005.As a point of clarification, it is not just a town for the deaf, but rather a town for signers. From their website:

    Laurent is not a town built for deaf people. It is a town for people who use sign language. Over two million hearing people use sign language, including parents and grandparents of the deaf, children and siblings of the deaf, those who hear but have lost or never developed the ability to speak. More than one million deaf individuals in the United States use sign language as their primary language.

    And they’ve even got a blog! It is DeafRead. Marvin Miller, 33, who conceived the plan, is deaf. His blog will document the entire process of building the world’s first town for signers in Laurent, SD.