This state institution is charged with the education of students with deafness, blindness, or sensory multidisabilities. It began in 1849 as a private school in the home of the Reverend and Mrs. Newton Pinckney Walker in the community of Cedar Spring, near Spartanburg. The first class included five deaf children. By the end of the first year the Walkers decided to devote the school exclusively to the education of deaf students. The first blind students were accepted in 1854. The state bought the school and 157 acres of land in 1856 for $10,759.
By the early twenty-first century the school had grown to about four hundred students with deafness, blindness, or multiple sensory disabilities enrolled in preschool through high school as well as vocational and postsecondary programs. Numerous others have been served through outreach and support services. While the main campus remains at the original location in Spartanburg, regional outreach centers are maintained in Charleston, Columbia, Conway, Florence, and Rock Hill. The school is governed by twelve commissioners, ten of whom are appointed, with the state superintendent of education and the state health commissioner acting as ex-officio members. Besides providing quality educational, vocational, and developmental services to its students, the school provides leadership information and technical assistance to organizations and individuals concerned with services to people with sensory disabilities.
Brasington, JoAnn Mitchell. The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind: 1849–1999. Spartanburg, S.C.: South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, 2000.
Earle, Marie. “A History of the First Fifty Years of the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind at Cedar Spring, 1849–1900.” Master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1930.
Saunders, Martha Marshall, et al. 150 Years at Cedar Springs: The Pictorial History, 1849–1999. Spartanburg, S.C., 1999.