Welcome from the Principal

Welcome from Principal Keith Van Fossen

Hello. My name is Keith Van Fossen, and I am the Principal for the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB).

VSDB is the only school campus in Virginia dedicated to the education of students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision, or deafblind. VSDB serves students from birth to age 21 or until a student ages out of Special Education Services.  VSDB follows Virginia Standards of Learning at all grade levels, and students are able to work toward any diploma option available.

Our classrooms are staffed by expert teachers who are specifically trained to teach students with sensory disabilities. In the Department for the Deaf, students get instruction directly from their teachers through American Sign Language. No interpreters are needed.  Students are able to ask questions, socialize with friends, and look up to deaf adults as role models both in school and in the residential halls. The Department for the Deaf operates on a Bilingual/Bicultural instructional model where both American Sign Language and written English language are valued, taught, and reinforced in all environments on campus.  VSDB also offers Driver’s Education to help students obtain their driver’s licenses.

In the Department for the Blind, all teachers are trained as Teachers for the Visually Impaired.  Classrooms are specifically designed to meet the needs of the students with a wide variety of technology including CCTV, braille devices, digital recording devices, braille embossers, tactile instructional materials, and other low vision devices.  In addition, students benefit from explicit instruction in the areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum such as self-advocacy, assistive technology, independent living skills, and vocational and recreation skills.

At VSDB, we encourage students to engage in extracurricular activities. There are a variety of clubs, special events, student council, and varsity sports including volleyball, basketball, track, cross country, and goal ball.

Following each student’s Individual Educational Program (IEP), we offer a full range of the related services they need, such as Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Language Therapy, Audiology, Orientation, and Mobility Services.  VSDB’s Transition Specialist assists each student in the development of a Transition Plan and Program of Study to meet individual needs and prepare them for the future. VSDB offers classes in independent living skills, recreation and leisure, career exploration, and work based learning opportunities. We use a variety of assessment tools to provide students with feedback and information related to future career and post-secondary school opportunities.  Our staff works closely with other state agencies such as the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) and the Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI) to assist with transition planning for students after high school.

At VSDB, the goal is to GROW independent students on campus so they can DO all they want to achieve and BECOME productive and successful members of their communities.


Keith Van Fossen