Rural Deaf Student Support Program

The Rural Deaf Student Support (RDSS) program provides housing, transportation and outreach to Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, ages 3-22. This program is for students from rural areas of Alaska wishing to attend the Alaska State School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AKSD) in Anchorage.

What is AKSD

Alaska State School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AKSD) is a comprehensive, child-centered school that serves students in the state of Alaska who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The program provides a safe and structured environment for individuals to reach their personal, academic, social, and vocational goals. This program allows preschool through 12th grade students to feel a sense of belonging in a community of people who can understand and cater to their individual needs. Throughout the school year, AKSD students further develop their communication abilities while building higher self-esteem and stronger sense of connection with their community. 

Click here to learn more about AKSD.


How does RDSS work

Each student is connected to a host family with the intent that they will return to the same home each school year. Doing so affords the student continuity and the opportunity to create strong and supportive relationships that benefit all.


Students have the opportunity to

  • Travel with an escort to Anchorage from their home community.
  • Stay with a host family during the school year.
  • Attend AKSD.
  • Return home during winter break and at the end of the school year.

All at no expense to the family!


Host Families

Host families are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), knowledgeable in both Deaf and Native cultures, and committed to partnership with the students and their parents/families. They meet all State of Alaska foster care requirements, inclusive of supports for the AKSD student's health, safety, recreation, and other needs. Host families also:

  • Assist the student in increasing their knowledge of ASL and Deaf culture through active involvement in the community.
  • Support the student in connecting with their native culture when applicable.
  • Provide a caring family environment for the time that the student is away from their home community.
  • Teach daily living skills, help with homework, and ensure that the student has activites outside of school which reflect their interests.
  • Actively maintain communication between the student and their parents and family.

Click Here for more info


Families of AKDS students have the opportunity to

  • Collaborate with the host family and AKSD; and remain an essential influence in the student's life and education.
  • Watch the student grow and develop educationally and socially.
  • Learn communication skills that lead to a stronger connection to the student. 
Rural Deaf Student Support is a program run by Hope Community Resources, funded via a grant provided by the Alaska Department of Education in partnership with the Division of Seniors and Disabilities Services.

Contact Information:

   Sharon Miranda - Coordinator of Deaf Supports
   Videophone: 907-268-4416
   Fax: 907-272-8807
   Jo-Anne Sullivan - Deputy Director of Health and Wellness
   Telephone (Voice): 907-433-4778
   Toll Free: (800) 478-0078