In January 1849, the Reverend Newton Pickney Walker and his wife, Martha Hughston Walker, made a promise to five children who were deaf to educate and train them for full lives as adults. Prior to making this promise, Reverend Walker spend part of 1848 at the Cave Spring School for the Deaf in Georgia learning the relatively new way of communicating with the deaf through American Sign Language.
In 1854, Reverend Walker made another promise, this time to children who were blind. On November 17, 1856, the State of South Carolina made the school an official State agency. On this day, the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind (SCSDB) made the promise to educate and train the children of South Carolina who were deaf and/or blind using the latest and most trusted teaching practices and the best technology available.
Lots of things have changed since 1849, but the commitment to provide the best educational experience for our students remains the same.
The evolution of technology to assist our students is happening at break-neck speed. Devices such as advanced hearing aids, cochlear implants, auditory brainstem implants, and hearing loops have helped some students hear. Equally important technological advances have been made in the area of blind education.
One of the advances is eSight Go, a vision enhancement solution that allows some visually impaired persons to see. Other advances include applications such as Seeing AI (artificial intelligence) which provides audio descriptions of the world as seen by the camera of one's phone. This app describes the world in front of the camera with descriptions of the people and objects in the room along with the layout of the room. This is accomplished using the power of AI. Other devices can take the text on a computer and automatically turn it into braille which can be read on a keyboard. These are only a few examples of how technology and AI are changing the world for our students.
Coming to us with specialized training, our teachers are able to incorporate the latest technology and teaching practices to help our students receive the best education and technical training.
As we look back on the first 175 years, we see that our purpose at SCSDB has remained the same. Our dedicated efforts to educate and train individuals who are deaf, blind, and sensory multi-disabled have been enhanced by the ever-advancing assistive technology and AI. So, what about the next 175 years?
The next 175 years of keeping our promise looks even brighter. Our calling to serve will be enriched by more advanced technology designed to improve lives. Our campus will see the construction of a new educational facility. This new school building will bring students who are deaf and/or blind together in a shared educational facility with designated space for each difference. Our new dormitories will look more like college suites and less like army barracks.
So, as we stand at the beginning of another 175 years, SCSDB once again renews its promise to the citizens of South Carolina to provide the best and most effective education and training to the children of South Carolina who are deaf, blind, and sensory multi-disabled.
SCSDB has kept its promise and will keep that promise as it greets the future. We thank you for being part of the last 175 years and ask you to join us in being part of that promise for the next 175 years. Your support is your commitment to stand with us and to embrace the best practices and technologies the future will bring as we change lives.
In 2024, the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind Foundation has a goal to raise $750,000 for the students at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. We invite you to join us!
Participate in 175 Days of Giving! (coming July 2024)
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