South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind

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The SC School for the Deaf and the Blind 165 Years of Service


Our First Century


In the late 1840s, a young minister, Reverend Newton Pinckney Walker, saw the need for deaf education inSouth Carolina. His wife, Martha Hughston Walker, had three siblings who were deaf and had no opportunity for education in South Carolina. Rev. Walker traveled to the Georgia School for the Deaf where he learned teaching methods for individuals who were deaf.


School for the Deaf. On January 22, 1849, Rev. Walker opened a school for five children who were deaf and a small group of hearing children at Cedar Spring in Southeastern Spartanburg County. The school was housed in a hotel building located on the present campus. In the early years, the school was the private property of Rev. Walker, but by 1854 the expenses became too great so Rev. Walker convinced the State Legislature to take over the school as a state-supported institution in 1856. The Legislature also allocated $30,000 to construct a building which later became known as Walker Hall, the school’s signature building.


School for the Blind. During the first few years of the school's operation, Rev. Walker saw the need for educational opportunities for children who were blind. In April of 1855, a department for blind children was added to the school with James S. Henderson, a graduate of the Tennessee School for the Blind, as principal.

SCSDB - Walker Hall


Our Second Century
Cedar Springs Academy
In 1977, the Cedar Springs Academy opened to serve children who were either deaf or blind with additional disabilities.
The Walker Foundation
A private fund-raising arm was established in 1979 and named The Foundation for the Multihandicapped, Blind and Deaf of South Carolina, Inc. The foundation was later renamed The Walker Foundation in honor of the school’s founding family.


Outreach Services
In 1984, a relationship was created with 12 local school districts to begin outreach services delivered to their students by the School for the Blind. Since that time, outreach services have grown to a statewide program including early intervention, vision and hearing services in the public schools, the deaf-blind project, a braille and large print distribution center, a telephone and alerting device distribution program and sign language interpreters.
Career and Technology Education
The vocational facility opened in 1984, providing opportunities for students to learn valuable employment trades and skills. In addition to specific training programs offered on campus, there are also partnerships with local business and industry. An Industrial Skills Development Center provides opportunities for students to obtain work experience toward meeting long-term employment goals and independent lifestyles. In 2001, the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind changed the name of the vocational program from the Vocational Department to the Career Technology and Education Department to reflect the many improvements in programming and technology available to students.


Cooperative Mainstreaming Program
In 1986, the School for the Blind established a cooperative mainstreaming program with Spartanburg School District 7. In the years following, the School for the Deaf established a cooperative mainstreaming program with Spartanburg School Districts 6 and 7. Through cooperative relationships with local school districts in the Spartanburg area, students are able to take advantage of specialized services and resources through the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind, while taking courses in some of the state’s finest public school districts.


Cleveland Learning Resource Center
In the 1990’s, increased emphasis was placed on the use of educational technology, and 1996 saw the opening of the state-of-the-art Cleveland Learning Resource Center as the result of a $3.2 million partnership. The emphasis on educational technology as well as access technology continues today as the school strives to maintain a state-of-the art learning environment.


Hughston Transition Living Center
The new Hughston Transition Living Center opened in 2004. The center is designed so all students, regardless of disability, can live there self-sufficiently. The goal of this center is to facilitate students learning how to live independently before graduation. The building is named in memory of John M. Hughston, the first graduate of the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind who later the first superintendent who was deaf.


The Handicapped Athletes Learning to Enjoy Riding (HALTER) program moved to its new home onto the school’s main campus in 2006. HALTER is an affordable Therapeutic Horseback Riding program that has served handicapped residents of Spartanburg (and surrounding counties) and students at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind since 1987.

Kelly’s Kids
An early childhood development center named in honor of Marcia Hastay Kelly, was dedicated in 2007. The center, located on the school’s main campus, is a partnership between the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind and the Spartanburg County First Steps Early Head Start program. Kelly’s Kids serves children that are six weeks to three years of age who are blind, deaf or sensory multidisabled as well as children who are typically developing.

Sports Complex
The SC School for the Deaf and the Blind dedicated a new Sports Complex including a 320-seat fully accessible stadium, concession stand, press box and equipment storage building in 2010.

This New Construction/Renovation Project began in 2010. The project includes additional classrooms, a therapy pool, dormitory space, office space, a new sprinkler system, an expanded infirmary, improved independent living kitchen and a residential multimedia room. The gymnasium, cafeteria and building ramps will be renovated, and important safety and energy improvements will be included.

Located on 160 beautiful acres four miles from downtown Spartanburg, the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind campus now includes 40 buildings including classrooms, libraries, vocational training centers, dormitories and recreational facilities. The school continues to improve its educational programs, outreach services and funding sources.