Florida School for the Deaf and Blind

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Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind
St. Augustine, Florida
Coordinates 29°54′50″N 81°18′56″W / 29.91387°N 81.31568°W / 29.91387; -81.31568Coordinates: 29°54′50″N 81°18′56″W / 29.91387°N 81.31568°W / 29.91387; -81.31568
Type Public
Motto Do More. Be More. Achieve More.
Established 1885
President Jeanne Glidden Prickett, EdD
Enrollment Over 600 enrolled in Pre-K through 12th grade and more than 300 enrolled in the Parent Infant Program
Mascot Dragons (Deaf Department) and Cobras (Blind Department)
Languages Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing students communicate through American Sign Language, the spoken English language, listening and written language. Blind/Visually-Impaired students benefit from Braille instruction and the latest assistive technology best suited for their visual impairment.

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a state-supported boarding school for deaf and blind children[1] established in 1885, in St. Augustine, Florida, United States.


In 1882, Thomas Hines Coleman, a young deaf man, was preparing to graduate from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only college for the deaf in the world at that time. He had graduated from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind and knew he wanted to make education for children his life's work.

Florida was one of the few states that had not made provision for the education of children who were deaf/hard of hearing or who had visual impairments. Coleman wrote Governor William D. Bloxham and he replied favorably toward the establishment of such a school. As their correspondence continued, the sum of $20,000 was reached as a minimum appropriation to start the school.[2]

In 1883, Florida´s legislature established an institution for the blind and deaf children for two years at $20,000. They requested bids from towns in the state for the location for the school. St. Augustine offered the best bid with $1,000 cash and 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land, the land donated by Captain Edward E. Vaill, a pioneer of the city. Contractor William A. MacDuff erected the original first three wooden buildings at $12,749; they were completed in December 1884.

The first entering class was 62 students in 1892 and the first graduation ceremony was held in 1898. The school was first named The School for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb. It was under the direction of a five-member board of trustees until 1905. The Florida legislature established the present seven-member Board of Trustees in 1963.

Construction began on new dormitories in late 1958 and they opened in 1959. Taylor Hardwick was the architect of record.


The school is now the largest school of its type in the United States with 47 buildings on 82 acres (330,000 m2) of land. The school now has an annual budget of over $30 million, up from its original of $20,000.

The school is Florida's primary public school for children who are deaf or blind. The school serves students in pre-school through 12th grade, and also has a post-secondary program. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Conference of Educational Administrators Serving the Deaf, and the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped.

The school has two departments: The Deaf Department serves children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and the Blind Department serves children who are blind or visually impaired. In addition, outreach programs provide support to parents, teachers, and other staff in small and rural school districts in the state of Florida.

The school has a health care center for students as well as two well-appointed auditoriums on campus. Blind high school students can take a sound engineering elective and have opportunities to work with state-of-the-art sound systems within the school.

Athletics and activities[edit]

The school boasts the Copeland Recreation and Fitness Center, specially designed and constructed for the blind. The Copeland Center is the site of the annual USABA (United States Association of Blind Athletes) Youth National Goalball Tournament.

Athletic teams include football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, Little League baseball, track, cross country, swimming, goalball, wrestling and cheerleading.

Students at the school can join performing groups. The school's Deaf Department has a traveling Dance Troupe, and the Blind Department has a band known as OuttaSight. Other clubs and activities include the Blind Skier Club, Academic Bowl Team (a competitive club), and MathCounts (a traveling Math team).

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Ray Charles attended St. Augustine School where he learned to read Braille. The school was known as The Institute for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb while Ray Charles Robinson was in attendance.
  • Ashley Fiolek attended the Florida School for the Deaf & Blind[citation needed] and is a very well known rider in motorcross racing.
  • Marcus Roberts, jazz pianist.


  1. ^ "Florida School for the Deaf and Blind". Retrieved 2011-03-23. public boarding school for eligible students who are deaf or hard of hearing 
  2. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, p. 49 (PDF)

External links[edit]