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Oklahoma School for the Deaf

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Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services



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 History of the Oklahoma School for the Deaf
First OSD Site in Sulphur. The teachers and pupils assembled on the front porch. (Probably around 1908) This was the Parkview Hotel. The State rented it to use for the school. This building was in use until 1913. The First Baptist Church now occupies this site.The first school in Oklahoma to give instruction to deaf children was at Fort Gibson. This school, started by a Mrs. Lowery, provided for the education of blind Indian children of the Five Civilized Tribes. Later, deaf children were admitted.

In 1898, Mr. and Mrs. Ellsworth Long started a school for deaf children in Guthrie, Oklahoma. After statehood, in 1908, the School for the Deaf was established in Sulphur, Oklahoma. Classes were originally held in rented buildings and hotels in the Sulphur business district.

Building of new school buildings began in 1910. In 1911, the buildings under construction, about a quarter of a mile East and 100 yards south of the present location, fell in. With allegations of fraud, the original buildings were condemned. New buildings were begun at the present location in 1912 and the first classes were held in the fall of 1913. Miss Edna Patch was the first graduate of a deaf school in Oklahoma, Class of 1907. She became the first deaf employee of the Oklahoma School for the Deaf in Sulphur.

OSD has grown from the original 3 buildings (Ralph H. White Education Center, Stewart Hall, and Read Hall) to a campus that includes the gym, auditorium, Student Union complex, the superintendent’s residence, Long Hall, Blattner Hall, Vocational Building, Griffing Hall, and the Physical Plant facilities.

In 1961, a major renovation was begun on all OSD buildings. Renovations were completed in 1980. In 1999-2000, a new renovation project was begun. As of spring, 2002, Long Hall, White Hall, Stewart Hall, and Blattner Hall have been completed. Major repairs have been made to the gymnasium during this period as well.

Ralph H. White was named Superintendent in 1981. He was the deaf person to be named OSD Superintendent. After Mr. White’s retirement in 1990, Steve Witchey was named Superintendent. Mr. Witchey became superintendent at the North Carolina School for the Deaf, Wilson Campus in 1994 and Dr. Linda Trice was named superintendent, the first female to fill that position. After Dr. Trice’s retirement in 2000, Mr. Larry Hawkins was named superintendent.