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Mission, Values & History

The Learning Center for the Deaf (TLC) is a nationally recognized leader in educational, therapeutic, and community services for deaf and hard of hearing children and adults. 

The mission of The Learning Center for the Deaf is to ensure that all deaf and hard of hearing children and adults thrive by having the knowledge, opportunity, and power to design the future of their choice.   


Quality Education:  We maintain a tenacious, high standard of excellence in our work and our interactions.

Communication: We cultivate a diverse bilingual, bicultural community where the primary language of interaction is American Sign Language (ASL).

Inclusivity: We value the perspectives, identity and contributions of each member of our community and celebrate its rich diversity.

Innovation: We are proud to be pioneers in Deaf education, professional training, behavioral and clinical care, and related services.

Collaboration: We actively partner with individuals, organizations, agencies, higher education institutions, and funders to strengthen the impact of our work. 


Since our founding in 1970, we have been a true pioneer in deaf education, and an innovator in providing comprehensive services to deaf and hard of hearing children and adults. As we enter our 50th year, we are proud to be the largest provider of services to deaf and hard of hearing children and adults in New England, and the largest private employer of Deaf individuals in Massachusetts.


Circa 1970

Today—after more than 35 years as a true pioneer in deaf education—TLC embodies his vision.
- Senator John F. Kerry, May 2007



The Vision: Inspired by his son, our founder Warren Schwab had a vision for a school that would revolutionize deaf education in Massachusetts. Warren Schwab set out to create an educational environment grounded in respect and enjoyment, where language and communication were paramount.  

1970: The Learning Center for the Deaf, the first school of the Deaf in Massachusetts to depart from the “oral method” of education and to advocate the use of signs in addition to spoken English, is established.

1975: Opens a pre-school program and launches an outpatient audiology service. The following year, introduces the Parent Infant Program (PIP), one of the first programs in the country to provide deaf infants and toddlers exposure to American Sign Language in addition to spoken English and to offer parents instruction in the use of ASL.

1978: Establishes a special needs program for deaf children who have cognitive or behavioral disabilities.

1980: Launches a high school program. A group residence for high school students begins the following year.

1987: Opens Walden House, a 365-day residential education and therapeutic treatment program for deaf students with additional needs.

1990: Affirms its commitment to bilingual-bicultural education where American Sign Language and written English are the primary languages of instruction.

1990:  Establishes The Center for Research and Training in partnership with Boston University Deaf Studies to advance research, training, and practice related to bilingual-bicultural education.

1995: Completes construction of a new facility, now called Walden School, to meet the needs of deaf students with emotional, social and psychological challenges that warrant a residential treatment program.

2002: Launches The Outreach Partnership Program, now called Public School Partnerships, to provide comprehensive consultative and direct services to deaf and hard of hearing students in public schools.

2005: Establishes Walden School’s Wraparound Program, now called Walden Community Services, to provide community-based services to families with deaf children who have behavioral and emotional problems.  

2010: Awarded accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) and the Council on Accreditation (COA).

2011: Opens a new Early Childhood Center, Library and Conference center on the site of the Barn. Consolidates the Early Childhood Programs to its Framingham Campus.

2015: Opens the Deaf Cultural Center on campus at 62 Kellogg Street.

2018:  Affirms American Sign Language as the primary language to be used by employees on campus. Developed by a group of employees across programs and approved by the Senior Leadership Team, these guidelines are incorporated into TLC's Employee Handbook.

2019:  TLC's visionary and founder, Warren Schwab, passes away. TLC celebrates his life and legacy, and establishes the Warren Schwab Memorial Award.

2019:  TLC selected as Outstanding Organization of the Year by The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Today: The Learning Center for the Deaf (TLC) is a nationally recognized leader in educational, therapeutic, and community services for deaf and hard of hearing children and adults. 

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