Ohio Institution for the Deaf and Dumb
In 1827, the Ohio legislature authorized the creation of the Ohio Institution for the Deaf and Dumb. The institution opened in 1829, in a rented house in Columbus, Ohio at the corner of Broad and High Streets. During the institution’s first year of existence, only one student enrolled. His name was Samuel Flenniken, a twelve-year-old boy from Columbus. All deaf children in Ohio were eligible to attend. Originally, tuition for the residential program was eighty dollars per year, but the state legislature provided nine scholarships, which permitted the recipients to attend the school for free. Children as young as twelve years of age could enroll in the five-year program, which taught basic subjects, like English and math, but also included vocational training.
In 1834, a building was completed to house the Ohio Institution for the Deaf and Dumb on East Town Street in Columbus, and over the next seventy years, the Ohio legislature authorized the construction of several additional structures, including both school buildings and dormitories. By the 1890s, approximately five hundred children enrolled in the institution every year, and by 1899, 3,081 deaf children had received at least some education at the institution. In 1904, the institution became known as the Ohio State School for the Deaf, and the Ohio Department of Education assumed control of the school.
By 1941, the Ohio State School for the Deaf’s East Town Street buildings were severely dilapidated. The Ohio legislature authorized the purchase of 235 acres in northeastern Columbus to relocate this school as well as the Ohio State School for the Blind. Due to World War II, construction was delayed, and the Ohio State School for the Deaf did not open in its new location until 1953. Eventually the campus included eleven buildings, including classrooms, dormitories, and recreational and vocational training buildings.
In 2005, attendance at the Ohio State School for the Deaf was just over one hundred students. Since the 1970s, attendance at the institution has declined, as school districts have improved their abilities to teach deaf students. In 2005, students at the Ohio State School for the Deaf ranged from three years to twenty-two years in age.