Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, Philadelphia, PA, circa 1880.
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View of exterior of the institution surrounded by images of the dormitories, the chapel, the director's room and other interiors, and a head-and-shoulders portrait of Joshua Foster.

Credit: Library of Congress

In the 1800s, first private and then state- supported educational opportunities for disabled students evolved to include specialized schools for the blind, deaf, and hearing-impaired. Often these residential facilities reinforced a sense of social isolation while imparting special skills to help students assimilate into the mainstream. Founded in 1820, the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb (today's Pennsylvania School for the Deaf) is the third oldest school of its kind in the United States.

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