The Arkansas School for the Deaf (ASD) was established in 1850 with support of the State of Arkansas. ASD has a strong legacy, based in Little Rock: it is the only school for students who are deaf or hard of hearing in the state of Arkansas and serves as the center for Deaf Education throughout the state. ASD is not only one of the state's oldest schools, but the oldest school for the deaf west of the Mississippi River.
ASD is a fully accredited, tuition-free state public school for eligible preschool and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing and its follows a state-mandated curriculum and provides individualized education to students from throughout Arkansas, many of whom live on campus during the week in dormitories.
ASD serves students from preschool through high school and beyond through a comprehensive post-secondary program focusing on career and college readiness. The school also provides support for deaf and hard of hearing students in mainstream programs throughout the state and serves families of deaf children from birth until school age through a home-visitation program.
ASD has a rich heritage of working together to create learning opportunities for academic excellence and personal independence. The staff of ASD supports this mission by providing students with dynamic opportunities for learning and delivering more equitable access to the world around them, truly instilling independence, autonomy, and confidence in all of our students. ASD is proud to be a leader in the field of deaf education nationwide.
Arkansas School for the Deaf is an inspired community committed to achievement, innovation, collaboration, and excellence.
Achievement - At ASD, students belong excel and thrive. ASD prepares students from birth to age 21 to be college and career ready by ensuring students achieve the essential skills of a rigorous curriculum in a bilingual environment where American Sign Language (ASL) and English are equally valued.
Innovation - ASD implements bold and creative strategies, connecting ideas and technologies to meet the changing needs of our students, maximize their success, and enhance ASD's reputation as the Arkansas resource center on deafness, and a premier leader in bilingual education.
Collaboration - ASD nurtures interactions within our community, as well as creating partnerships locally and globally, to bring new opportunities to our students and to strengthen the future of ASD.
Excellence - ASD recognizes excellence as equipping a diverse community of promising young people to go out in the world with the confidence to lead lives of integrity, purpose, and achievement in an increasingly global society.
The mission of the Arkansas School for the Deaf is to empower Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Hard of Hearing children to become highly effective communicators who are educated, motivated, and independent. At ASD, students are transformed into confident young people, inspired to achieve their goals, with the skills to succeed in a competitive world.
Bilingual Belief Statement
Arkansas School for the Deaf is an accessible ASL/English bilingual community in which people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and hearing learn and work together without language and communication barriers.
At ASD, we have the following beliefs:
1. We recognize that students coming to Arkansas School for the Deaf have diverse cultures, backgrounds, and language abilities.
- For some students, American Sign Language is their heritage language.
- For some students, Spoken English is their first language.
- For some students, another cultural signed or spoken language is their first language.
- Some students come to ASD with no language.
2. We believe that American Sign Language and English are equal and separate languages. Both languages allow Deaf children the ability to access academic information, interact effectively with others, and express themselves creatively.
3. We believe that every student has a right to a language rich learning environment, where he/she has full access to clear communication and language.
4. We believe students need to learn how to interact successfully in both Deaf culture and hearing culture. Culture and identity development are important for every child to develop self-worth and self-confidence.
- We believe Deaf students need real life exposure to experiences in order to increase their understanding of and ability to successfully interact in the hearing community.
- We believe Deaf students need Deaf role models and experience in the Deaf community to increase their understanding and ability to successfully interact in the Deaf community.
5. We recognize and respect each student’s individual needs and abilities. We believe that everyone is equal and important, regardless of hearing levels, their preferred communication mode, and their cultural identity.
6. We believe that in order to optimize student achievement, Deaf children must have early and exposure to a rich and comprehensive language. Therefore, it is our priority to:
- Meet these needs on our campus by providing programs, resources, and support to families of young Deaf children to foster their exposure to a full language.
- Meet these needs statewide through a responsive and supported Outreach program.
We, the staff and faculty of ASD, believe that to foster double pride in our students, we must first have double pride ourselves. We realize that it is essential that we have fluent skills in both our native and non-native languages in order to provide a high quality bilingual instructional environment.
Agency Strategic Plan
The ASD Strategic Plan 2020-2023 identifies 6 focus areas that will focus the work of ASD staff members in the coming years.
Board of Trustees
The Arkansas School for the Deaf is governed by our Board of Trustees. Individual Board members are appointed by the Governor to serve six-year terms, in which they provide oversight, guidance, and support of ASD programs and policies. The Board of Trustees is responsible for the appointment of our Superintendent, Dr. Janet Dickinson, who has responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the school.
About the Superintendent
ASD provides transportation services free of charge for day and boarding students. Local students who live in Little Rock and surrounding areas are transported daily. Students who live throughout the state go home every Friday and return to school on Sunday.
ASD provides boarding services free of charge in a homelike environment for enrolled Arkansas students.
ASD Dining Services provides quality, nutritious meals to students free of charge. We operate one kitchen and one dining rooms serving students and staff members approximately 450 meals each day, prepared mostly from scratch.