Artist Betty G. Miller, who was born deaf, never hid her anger at the hearing world's domination over the lives of deaf people.

In a 1972 pen-and-ink drawing intended to capture the frustration of deaf students prohibited from using sign language, Miller sketched two hands spread palms down on a flat surface. The wrists are shackled with a heavy chain. The fingers are hacked into lifeless lumps.

"What I did was earthshaking at the time," Miller said, "but one teacher at Gallaudet came up to me recently and said to me, 'We finally caught up with you.' "

Gallaudet University, the citadel of education for the deaf world, is highlighting the achievements of the deaf this week in events that will climax Friday with the inauguration of the university's first deaf president, I. King Jordan.

Many leaders of the deaf community now see the student protests last March at Gallaudet that resulted in the appointment of Jordan as one more petal on the larger and more intricate bloom of an awakening deaf world. And they foresee a continued flowering for deaf culture and society that stems not only from the protest but also from continuing advances on technological, political and social fronts.

Jordan expects deaf people to also make a greater effort to share their culture with the hearing world. "ASL {American Sign Language} poetry, deaf folklore, deaf humor -- all these things that have been kept inside the deaf community -- now people are very proud to bring them out and show them off," he said.

Plans are under way, Jordan said, for a weeklong international festival and conference celebrating deaf culture and deaf expression. "The Deaf Way," planned for July 1989 at Gallaudet, is expected to bring together hearing and deaf people to discuss social and cultural life in the world's deaf communities.

Campus coordinators are working this week to attract support for the festival. "They want as many artists as possible, and there is also a call for papers on deaf cul- ture," said university spokesman Chris Beakey.

Specialists in the history of the deaf community said the renaissance of deaf culture, in evidence at Gallaudet this week in special workshops and forums, is rooted in the 1960s, when a series of changes began sweeping the deaf world. They included a new appreciation for American Sign Language as a native language of deaf people and a new ambition to celebrate the achievements of deaf artists, deaf poets and deaf dancers whose work is often built on the imagery and the movement of sign language.

The use of ASL, said deaf sociologist Barbara Kannapell, enables deaf people to build on their identities and to define themselves as a linguistic subculture. "Once I learned that ASL is my native language, I developed a strong sense of identity as a deaf person and a more positive self-image," said Kannapell, founder of Deafpride, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Southeast Washington.

The feelings of pride associated with sign language are behind the growing popularity of such deaf cultural institutions as the Gallaudet Dance Company, according to Harlan Lane, a specialist in deaf history.

Gallaudet officials said the dance company began in 1955 when a professor noticed a student signing "The Lord's Prayer" in American Sign Language during a ceremony on campus.

Impressed with the grace and style of the hand movements, the professor, Peter R. Wisher, proposed that deaf students use signs as a foundation for dance movement.

Today Gallaudet's dance company of about 15 deaf dancers performs throughout the world for deaf and hearing audiences.

Deaf artists began to focus on the deaf experience. Among the first to depict the oppression that many deaf people felt was Miller.

"I really started the revolution in 1972," Miller said, "but nobody was ready for it. Now they are."

Specialists in deaf history describe Miller as one of the first deaf artists to illustrate the despair of many deaf people whose hands were tied -- often literally -- in schools, such as the one she attended, that followed the "oral" tradition in deaf education and discouraged the use of sign language. The hands were tied to keep students from signing and to encourage them to learn to speak and to read lips.

The aggressive advocacy of the deaf culture that became so visible during the Gallaudet protest of 1988 is in sharp contrast to the period before the 1960s, when deaf people were more apt to keep to themselves and when American Sign Language was widely ridiculed as a collection of gestures, according to Mervin D. Garretson, a nationally known deaf educator.

Garretson, special assistant to Jordan, said that the previously negative view of ASL began changing as the result of new research during the 1960s by linguist William C. Stokoe Jr. and others.

Sign language began to emerge as a respectable form of communication, Garretson said, and even the "oral" schools became more flexible.

"They used to be very rigid," Garretson said. "But they are not rigid anymore. They don't slap the children's hands anymore. They allow signing in the dormitories now, but not in the classroom."

Deaf historians blame the previously poor image of ASL on the long-simmering philosophical dispute over the education of deaf children, the effectiveness of oralist leader Alexander Graham Bell and the pivotal 1880 vote of an international convention of instructors of the deaf.

As a result, the oral schools dominated deaf education from 1880 until recently.

Pitted against Bell in the controversy over sign language was Edward Miner Gallaudet, the founding president of Gallaudet, who believed that deaf children needed to use sign language to realize their intellectual potential. Gallaudet favored a combined approach to education in which deaf children were taught speech and speech reading while using sign language.

The century-old conflict "is and has been the most burning and devisive issue in the education of deaf children ever," Jordan said. But he and other deaf leaders also said that although differences remain, there appears to be a new spirit of cooperation between the oralists and those who support the combined method.

The everyday dynamics of the Gallaudet lunchroom offer another glimpse into the changing attitudes, according to Gregory Hlibok, a leader of the March protest.

Before the spring demonstration, Hlibok said, students typically split into two groups to eat their lunch and to socialize. One group consisted of fluent signers who learned ASL at an early age from deaf parents or other deaf people and who carried on lively conversations with their fingers, he said.

Sitting separately, Hlibok said, was the other group, which included deaf students unfamiliar and uncomfortable with sign language and unaware of the importance of deaf culture.

But the protest brought the two groups together in the lunchroom and on the campus, Hlibok said, because "the students {who didn't sign very well} began to feel good about their deafness and began to be part of deaf culture by joining the students who use ASL."