West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind
Founded in 1870, the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind has provided over 4,800 students with quality education. The schools enrolls students from Pre-K thru 12th grade. Graduates develop the necessary skills to become independent members of society.
Backstory and Context
In 1870, three sight-impaired West Virginia citizens Howard Hill Johnson, his brother James, and Susan Ridenour petitioned legislature for the creation of a state school for the blind. After facing much skepticism surrounding the fact that the disabled could, indeed, be successfully educated, the three young people won the support and funding from the state government1.
According to The Living New Deal, "in the late 1930s, a new elementary school building was constructed with the assistance of funds from the Public Works Administration (PWA). The building cost about $300,000 (about $4.7 million in today’s dollars), with the state of West Virginia and the PWA contributing about half each.
The building was considered state-of-the-art for its time. A 1936-39 West Virginia Board of Control report to the governor indicated that the 'Classrooms and auditorium are specially wired for amplification of sound to prosecute auricular training, the latest step in educational methods for the deaf. It is believed this is one of the finest primary buildings in the country.'3"
Today, the school serves about 4,800 students, many of whom are boarded at on-campus dormitories. The school campus is comprised of 16 buildings, but only about half are presently being used for educational purposes due to structure deterioration. Many of the buildings have an array of historical significances; for instance, the School of the Blind's cafeteria was used as a hospital during the Civil War. The school has been experiencing funding challenges over the past few years and administration is working toward solutions2.
1. http://www.wvculture.org/goldenseal/fall02/dbschools.html 2.http://wvpublic.org/post/whats-next-w-va-schools-deaf-and-blind http://wvsdb2.state.k12.wv.us/pages/WestVirginiaSchools_Deaf_Blind 3. Accessed February 1st 2022. https://livingnewdeal.org/projects/elementary-school-building-romney-wv/.