Upon the 21 July 1814 Mr Kinniburgh, a teacher at the Edinburgh Institution, then the only place in Scotland where deaf and dumb children could be educated, visited Glasgow along with a few of his pupils, and showed, by examining them in public, what could be done in the way of educating the deaf and dumb. In consequence of this visit an auxiliary society was formed in Glasgow , later a small school was started at 38 High John Street of which Mr John Anderson, the first teacher of the deaf and dumb in Glasgow , was sole master.
In 1818 those specially interested in the education of the deaf and dumb thought it most desirable that an independent Institution should be founded in Glasgow . Accordingly, a circula, signed by leading citizens, prominent among whom were the Rev. Dr. William Muir, then of St George's Church, Glasgow, and afterwards of St Stephen's Church, Edinburgh, and Mr Andrew Tennent, merchant, Glasgow, was issued on 20 June 1818 and on 14 January 1819, a public meeting was held in the Andersonian Institution room, with Lord Provost Henry Monteith in the chair. The Lord Provost thereupon expressed his pleasure at what he had seen and heard and thereafter a Society called “The Glasgow Society for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb” was formed and was incorporated by Seal of Cause from the Magistrates of Glasgow, and within a few weeks nearly £2,000 was raised towards its support. Lord Provost Monteith was appointed the first president, Andrew Tennent the first honorary treasurer and the Rev. Dr. Muir the first honorary secretary.
The Education Act of 1872 was passed making it compulsory for all parents to educate their children, although not specifically excepting those of deaf and dumb children, was never enforced against such parents, on the grounds that they had a reasonable excuse. School Boards took steps toward making education more general, and arranged for and encouraged the sending of such children to the Institution in Langside, Glasgow.
In 1873 additional ground besides the Institution was acquired for the purpose of ensuring the continued amenity of the building.That year a missionary was set apart for the adult deaf and dumb in Glasgow , and it was arranged that he conduct a Service for the children every Sunday evening. The Rev. John Henderson, who succeeded to this office in 1879, held this service for over thirty years.
In 1919 the Education Act made no direct change in the education of the deaf and dumb except to extend the time during which they must be educated from five years of age until they attain eighteen. On 14 January, 1919 teachers of the deaf from different parts of Scotland were entertained by the Directors to an informal lunch on the very day which marked the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Glasgow Society for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb.
In 2012 the Society became a company limited by guarantee and changed its name to The Society for the Education of the Deaf.