In 1970, Warren Schwab had a vision for a school that would revolutionize deaf education in Massachusetts. Schwab set out to create an educational environment grounded in respect and enjoyment, where language and communication were paramount. The result was the first school in Massachusetts to use American Sign Language and spoken English instead of relying solely on the oral teaching method.
Today—after more than 35 years as a true pioneer in deaf education—TLC embodies his vision.
- Senator John F. Kerry, May 2007
Since its founding in 1970, The Learning Center for the Deaf has grown from one school in a rented facility to a multi-service educational organization serving over 1,500 children and adults a year in more than 94 towns in Massachusetts and in 15 states. Through all of the growth and program development, the informal creative atmosphere of the early years continues, as does TLC’s commitment to full communication access, student-centered learning, academic challenges, and rich, meaningful learning experiences.
1970: The Learning Center for the Deaf, the first school of the Deaf in Massachusetts to depart from the “oral method” of education and to advocate the use of signs in addition to spoken English, is established.
1975: Opens a pre-school program and launches an outpatient audiology service. The following year, introduces the Parent Infant Program (PIP), one of the first programs in the country to provide deaf infants and toddlers exposure to American Sign Language in addition to spoken English and to offer parents instruction in the use of ASL.
1978: Establishes a special needs program for deaf children who have cognitive or behavioral disabilities.
1980: Launches a high school program. A group residence for high school students begins the following year.
1987: Opens Walden House, a 365-day residential treatment program for deaf students challenged by severe social and emotional difficulties, resulting from childhood trauma, mental illness and/or organic dysfunction.
1990: Affirms its commitment to bilingual bicultural education where American Sign Language and written English are the primary languages of instruction.
1994: Introduces TLC’s Randolph Campus, which serves children from infants and toddlers through 5th grade. The innovative Language Access Program (LAP) for students with no hearing loss who benefit from signing for access to the curriculum is established as well.
1995: Completes construction of a new facility, now called Walden School, to meet the needs of deaf students facing emotional, social and psychological challenges that warrant a residential treatment program.
2002: Launches The Outreach Partnership Program (TOPP) to provide comprehensive consultative and direct services to deaf and hard-of-hearing students in public schools.
2005: Establishes Walden School’s Wraparound Program to provide community-based services to families with deaf children who have behavioral and emotional problems. The program is designed to help reduce the need for residential placement.
2010: The Learning Center for the Deaf is awarded accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) and the Council on Accreditation (COA).
2011: Opens a new Early Childhood Center, Library and Conference center on the site of the Barn. Consolidates the Early Childhood Programs to its Framingham Campus and closes the Randolph location.
Today: Headquartered on a 14-acre campus with 14 buildings, The Learning Center for the Deaf employs more than 300 staff, more than 30% of whom are deaf.