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Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

     The Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ASBVI) educates and assists students with sensory impairments in academic, functional and social areas to enable them to become productive citizens. ASBVI provides enriched programs to meet the needs of all students ages birth through twenty-one. Mr. Jim Hill is the Agency Director and Superintendent.

     The Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired was founded in 1859 by Reverend Haucke, a blind Baptist minister. The school was originally located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Its original mission was to provide “educable students, ages seven through twenty-six” opportunities to develop skills that would assist them in their adults lives. Originally named the “Institute for the Education of the Blind”, the school moved to Little Rock in 1868 in order to be centrally located and occupied the current site of the Governor’s Mansion. The initial cornerstone was laid at 1800 Center Street. The school was renamed the “Arkansas School for the Blind” in 1877. On October 9, 1939, ASB campus was built and relocated in Little Rock to its present location at 2600 West Markham Street and was dedicated by Helen Keller. The Helen Keller Administration Building was named in her honor and is still in use today.

     In 1963, ASBVI expanded and opened a facility for “multi-handicapped” students which provided academic and functional educational opportunities. The facility is now called The Learning Center and has expanded services to students with multiple disabilities.  The Learning Center provides classroom academics in a more functional setting than the regular classroom. In 1971, ASBVI’s Vocational Program, which is now called Career and Technical Educational Program (CET), was developed and offered such courses as woodworking, chair caning, piano tuning, and computers. The CET Program has expanded over the years and currently provides a curriculum that teaches skills such as Adaptive and Computer Technology, Career Development, Orientation and Mobility, Independent Living, Life Skills Education, etc. In 1976, the school began to provide services such as Braille textbooks, large-print textbooks, and low-vision clinical examinations to any Arkansas student with visual impairments or blindness.

     The Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired currently provides a wide variety of academic, functional and social programs.  In 2006, Superintendent Hill initiated the Early Intervention Program which provides direct services to parents, family members, caregivers, and teachers of Arkansas infants and toddlers born with visual impairments or blindness.  Two certified Early Intervention Specialists travel throughout the state visiting homes and day care centers/schools to provide direct services and teach parents and caregivers appropriate interventions and strategies to utilize with their sensory impaired children. The Early Intervention Program also provides on-campus classrooms for parents and caregivers who prefer on-campus services.  The Pre-School Program provides educational, functional, conceptual and social early-learning opportunities to students ages three and four.  Two Pre-School Classrooms are staffed by certified Early Childhood Teachers and are available to students who commute to ASBVI.  Kindergarten through grade 12 programs include general academics, special education, and vocational programs. Instruction in the Expanded Core Curriculum for students with visual impairments and blindness is provided at every grade level. In 2008-2009, ASBVI became the first school for the blind in the country to offer a Gifted and Talented Program to students. The Gifted and Talented Program boasts a fully certified teacher and provides specialized instruction to early elementary, upper elementary, middle school and high school students. Extra-curricular activities include Wrestling, Swimming, Field and Track and Goal Ball, Instrumental Music, Choir, etc. All teachers and administrative staff members are fully certified in their core curriculum areas and are either fully certified in Teaching the Visually Impaired Student or are working toward that specific certification. A full time Counselor and Licensed Certified Social Worker are on staff.  ASBVI provides a Residential Program for students who live too far from Little Rock to be able to commute to school.  Approximately 50% of the students live on campus and are provided transportation to their homes each Friday afternoon and return transportation to school on Sundays. The other 50% of students commute from surrounding school districts. A twenty-four hour, fully accredited Infirmary is provided for students’ health care needs and is staffed by certified nurses. Arkansas Children’s Hospital provides a pediatrician to oversee health care needs that require a physician. The Low Vision Clinic is staffed by an Optometrist Low Vision Specialist Physician who provides clinical services and functional vision assessments to any Arkansas student who is visually impaired or blind. ASBVI’s Instructional Materials Center provides large print and Braille textbooks to sensory impaired students throughout the state. ASBVI is fully accredited by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE).

     Because all students who attend ASBVI are visually impaired or blind, the “Expanded Core Curriculum” is an essential component of ASBVI’s educational programs. The Expanded Core Curriculum provides students intensive instruction in skill areas including Braille, Orientation & Mobility, Adaptive Technology, Daily Living Skills, Independent Living and Life Skills.

     ASBVI has residential dormitories available to all school age groups. Students must have the abilities to care for their daily living skills needs before they are accepted as residential students. The dormitories are divided by gender as well as by age level. Dormitories are staffed by “dorm parents” who provide an environment where students learn additional independent and social skills.  Recreational activities for dormitory students include shopping, going to restaurants, attending plays and other venues, movies, swimming, outdoor recreation, cookouts, camping activities, fishing, etc.  

     Students who attend ASBVI must be legally blind or have a visual condition that prevents their educational and/or social success in the public school’s academic classroom.  All ASBVI students must be deemed in need of Special Education due to negative affect of visual impairment. Students must be referred by their local school district.

     The Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is funded by state tax revenues appropriated through the Arkansas Legislature. No charges are incurred by Arkansas residents.  For additional information concerning ASBVI, please refer to:  www.arkansasschoolfortheblind.org or call 501-296-1810.

 Contacts:

 Mr. Jim Hill, Superintendent                       jim.hill@asb.k12.ar.us

Mrs. Sharon Berry, Educational Exec. Assistant to the Superintendent                                               sharon.berry@asb.k12.ar.us

Mrs. Teresa Doan,  Elementary Principal/LEA; Learning Center Principal                                                     teresa.doan@asb.k12.ar.us

James Caton, Secondary Principal                james.caton@asb.k12.ar.us

Justin Rasnick, Special Education Supervisor justin.rasnick@asb.k12.ar.us

Jennifer Linder, Counselor                           jennifer.linder@asb.k12.ar.us

Meg Berry, Licensed Certified Social Worker meg.berry@asb.k12.ar.us

Mrs. Betty Sanders, Executive Assistant      betty.sanders@asb.k12.ar.us

Updated of 1-28-16