School for the Blind
The Halifax Asylum for the Blind opened in 1871 with a total student population of 4 and 6 by the end of the school year. It was renamed: Halifax School for the Blind, in 1884. The first superintendent from 1873 to 1923 was Sir Charles Frederick Fraser.
Students between the ages of 8–18 were eligible to attend. The first students were from Nova Scotia, however, through considerable effort, by 1888, all three of the Maritime Provinces and the colony of Newfoundland agreed to provide grants towards the education of the blind to allow students from each of these areas to attend the school in Halifax. By 1911, the student population totaled 135 students.
The 1960’s marked the beginning of the end of the residential school for the blind in Halifax. The four provincial governments of the Atlantic Provinces began to take on more managing responsibility and formed the first board of managers comprised of two representatives from each of the four provincial governments. In 1972, the enrolment in the Halifax School for the Blind was 165.
In 1975, the school changed from a private to a public institution and was renamed as the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA).
School for the Deaf
The Institution for the Deaf and Dumb was established in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1856, incorporated in 1982, and it was renamed the School for the Deaf in 1913. The original building on Gottigen Street in Halifax was demolished and a new school built and opened in 1896. From 1896-1961, this school served deaf children from the Atlantic Provinces. Under the Interprovincial School for the Deaf Act (1960), the governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick assumed joint responsibility for the operation of the school, moved it to Amherst, Nova Scotia and renamed it Interprovincial School for the Education of the Deaf. Students from all four Atlantic Provinces attended the school. In 1965, Newfoundland students stopped attending, since a new school for deaf students had opened in St. John’s. A vocational school opened on campus in Amherst in 1966 and some students from Newfoundland returned in 1972 to attend this program. Off campus programs in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were introduced beginning in 1967 and this movement to decentralize educational programs began to grow. In 1975, the school was renamed the Atlantic Provinces Resource Centre for the Hearing Handicapped (APRCHH). The Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA) was formed to oversee both APRCHH and the new Atlantic Provinces Resource Centre for the Visually Handicapped (APRCVH). The Amherst facility’s name changed again 1989 to the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority – Resource Centre for the Hearing Impaired (APSEA-RCHI).
By 1991, mainstreaming resulted in enrolment declines in both APSEA-RCHI and the Sir Frederick Fraser School for the Blind in Halifax, and merging the two schools was under consideration. The decision was made in 1994 to consolidate the schools and APSEA-RCHI closed at the end of the 1994-95 school year, moving some operations and services to the APSEA Centre on South Street in Halifax. Students were then educated in mainstreamed settings or in various day classes throughout the province and came to the APSEA Centre for assessments and short term placements.