Austine School

Susan Keese / VPR

An early learning center in Brattleboro says it wants to make a bid for the 177-acre campus of the former Austine School for the Deaf.

The campus has been largely vacant since the Austine School closed abruptly at the end of the 2014 school year. The Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which ran the school, declared bankruptcy five months later. 

Susan Keese / VPR

The closing of Vermont's only school for the deaf has opened new debate about the best way to educate deaf and hard-of-hearing children. For decades, mainstreaming in public schools has been seen as a more enlightened alternative to residential schools for the deaf.  Now some Vermonters are questioning that assumption.

John Dillon / VPR

A coalition of  deaf and hard-of-hearing Vermonters and their allies wants the legislature to create a state Commission on the Deaf. The group is also calling for the state to reopen the recently closed Austine School for the Deaf as a state school. And they want deaf people to have a say in replacing services that ended when Austine’s parent group dissolved in September.