A Pioneer and Innovator

Who We Are

The Learning Center for the Deaf is a national model and  leader in educational, therapeutic, and community services for, by, and with deaf and hard of hearing children and adults. Since 1970, we have been a true pioneer in Deaf Education, and an innovator in providing comprehensive services to deaf and hard of hearing children and adults. Over the past 50 years, TLC has grown from a small school in a rented room to a diverse multi-service agency with 17 buildings on a 14-acre campus and additional locations in Framingham and Springfield, MA.

We annually service more than 2,000 individuals, families and students, as well as more than 150 businesses across Massachusetts, New England and the country. TLC supports services to children, families, and individuals as close by as Framingham, Massachusetts, and as far away as California. Our staff present on a national and international basis.

The Vision: In 1970, TLC was established based on the pioneering ideas of its founders Warren Schwab, Maureen O'Donnell, Wayne Farrell (later O’Farrell), and Dermont Keohane. They were dedicated to a revolutionary approach to deaf education—combining “total communication” with the unstructured, informal atmosphere of open classrooms. The curriculum was based on the “discovery method,” allowing students to wander freely to stations within the classroom that focused on topics such as nature, math, reading, art, and woodworking. No rows of desks, no time schedules, no standardized readers. The archaic approach of rigid rows of students facing forward to focus on lip reading was banished. TLC became the first school in Massachusetts to use total communication to teach deaf and hard of hearing students.

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 education and therapeutic treatment program for deaf students with additional needs.

1990: Affirms its commitment to bilingual-bicultural education where American Sign Language and written English are the primary languages of instruction. Read: About Marie Philip

1990:  Establishes The Center for Research and Training in partnership with Boston University Deaf Studies to advance research, training, and practice related to bilingual-bicultural education.

1995: Completes construction of a new facility, now called Walden School, to meet the needs of deaf students with emotional, social and psychological challenges that warrant a residential treatment program.

2002: Launches The Outreach Partnership Program, now called Public School Partnerships, to provide comprehensive consultative and direct services to deaf and hard of hearing students in public schools.

2005: Establishes Walden School’s Wraparound Program, now called Walden Community Services, to provide community-based services to families with deaf children who have behavioral and emotional problems.  

2010: 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.

2015: Opens the Deaf Cultural Center on campus at 62 Kellogg Street.

2018:  Affirms American Sign Language as the primary language to be used by employees on campus. Developed by a group of employees across programs and approved by the Senior Leadership Team, these guidelines are incorporated into TLC's Employee Handbook.

2019:  TLC's visionary and founder, Warren Schwab, passes away. TLC celebrates his life and legacy, and establishes the Warren Schwab Memorial Award.

2019:  TLC selected as Outstanding Organization of the Year by The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

2020: TLC celebrates its 50th Anniversary providing comprehensive services that benefit deaf and hard of hearing adults and children across Massachusetts, New England and the country.

2022: TLC Gender and Sexuality Alliance receives the Advancing Equity & Justice Award from the Massachusetts Coalition on LGBTQ Youth

2022: Best of MetroWest Audiology Clinic

2023: Successful re-accreditation from both NEASC, COA and CEASD

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