INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND
A Directory of the Work for the Blind
in the United States and Canada
COMPILED IN 1916 BY â–
Charles F. F. and Mary D. Campbell
The American Encyclopedia of Ophthalmology
INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND
A directory of the work for the Blind
in the United States and Canada
Compiled in 1916 by
CHARLES F. F. AND MARY D. CAMPBELL
Kditors: "Outlook for the Blind"
Reprinted from the
AMERICAN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF OPHTHALMOLOGY
INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND IN AMERICA
Probably every ophthalmologist has, at some time or other, been
asked where and how a blind person can be schooled or otherwise
armed for the battle of life. In the following survey, we have en-
deavored to make it possible for an inquirer in any one of the United
States, or provinces of Canada, by referring to this section of the
Encyclopedia, to find just what are the resources for the blind in his
We have deliberately refrained from lengthy statements with regard
to the education and training of the blind on this continent in the
belief that the accompanying series of illustrations with their captions
will be more effective than many words. It will be observed, starting
with the care of infants, as exemplified in a nursery for blind babies
and ending with assistance for adults, that we show with these pictures
practically every phase of work for and by tin- blind in America.
The illustrations arc typical of the best work in the country.
By referring to the sub-sections dealing with one's own state or
province there will be found the agencies in that locality available for
the blind. If there is no institution or organization in a particular
commonwealth applicable to the particular needs of the person in whom
one may be interested, apply to the superintendent of the existing
institution. He will he glad to direct the applicant to the nearest
source of help.
Historical sketch. In the United States the first attempt to be of
service to the blind was made in behalf of the education of blind
children, as few of the handicapped make a stronger appeal than the
blind child. The first schools were started in the eastern states;
Boston. New York, and Philadelphia opening them in the early thirties.
It matters little which of these institutions actually began teaching
blind children first. Suffice it to say that by 1835 the work was well
under way in each of these cities, and. as so frerpiently the custom with
pioneer work of an educational and philanthropic nature, the main-
tenance of these institutions was secured from public-spirited indi-
viduals. It was not long, however, before appeals were made to the
legislatures, and state aid was soon forthcoming for the education of
blind children, not only in the three above mentioned cities, but in
other parts of the country. The dates of the founding of the various
schools are given as the facts about each institution are recorded.
INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND
Almost ;ill those win) began working for blind children sooner or
later were confronted with the problem of Mind adults; not only
children who grew up into adults, but also those who lost their sight
later in life. Vrvx naturally those who were responsible for the man-
agemenl of early institutions for the education of the blind youth, felt
it incumbenl upon them to do what they could for Mind adults, with
the result thai in most of the earlier schools for the blind in the
United States small workshops or departments were maintained for
the instruction ami employmenl of blind men and women.
It was soon recognized by educators of the blind that it was unwise
to have adults mingle with children, so thai gradually the department
tor adults was separated from the rest of the institution, ami almost
all of the state schools for the blind were devoted principally to the
education of blind youth.
Strange as il may seem, no general movemenl swept over the country
during the nineteenth century for the training and care of the adult
blind, such as manifested itself for the education of blind children.
There were, however, notable exceptions in several states of which
mention ought to be made. Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, who is recog
nized by all as the pioneer worker for the blind in America, established
a workshop for blind adults in 1848. which was in reality an off-shoot
from the older educational institution for blind children. This shop,
in which mattress-making and chair-caning are the principal industries,
is still in existence.
The Xew York City ami .Maryland schools for the blind spent con-
siderable money in efforts to operate industrial establishments for
blind adults, and the Maryland school shop, continued to the present
day. has become the .Maryland Workshop for the Blind. The depart-
ment for adults of the Xew York Institute was not continued, but in
1869 the Society for the Relief of the Destitute Blind of Xew York
City opened a home which is now located at 104th Street and Amster-
dam Avenue. In 1868 and 1874 respectively, a working home for
blind women and a working home for blind men were established in
Philadelphia. While these institutions were not the direct outgrowth
of departments of the Philadelphia School for the Blind, the manage-
ineiit of the school was very much interested in having practical work
undertaken for the adult blind.
The tirst home teaching society to be established in America was
founded in Philadelphia by Dr. Moon, the creator of the Moon
alphabet (See p. 259, Vol. T. of this Encyclopedia.) for the blind, and
was conducted along the general lines pursued by the English Home
Teaching Societies. The Pennsylvania Home Teaching Society did
INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND
not expand to any greal extent during the first years of its existence,
and confined most of its efforts to Philadelphia. In 1892 a movement
was set on foot in Connecticut which resulted in the establishment
of the Institute for the Blind of that state, and started a wave of
interest in adults that soon reached Massachusetts, where instruction
for blind adults in their homes was first provided at state expense in
With the opening of the twentieth century, we find the beginning
of an ever increasing effort to provide adequately for the care of the
adult blind. In 1903 the first of many associations for the blind was
started in Massachusetts. It was also in 1903 that the legislatures of
both Massachusetts and New York appointed temporary commissions,
which were directed to investigate the condition and needs of the blind
in their respective states. In 1906, the temporary commission of
Massachusetts was followed by the appointment of the first permanent
State Commission for the Blind in the United States. Almosl every
year since has witnessed in one or more states the beginning of some
kind of state supported work for blind adults, and also for the pre-
vention of blindness.
Even before this section is printed new activities for the blind will
undoubtedly be undertaken in different parts of the country. Infor-
mation about these more recent endeavors can be found in the Outlook
for the Blind, published in Columbus, Ohio, the official organ of the
American Association of Instructors of the Blind and the American
Association of Workers for the Blind, the two national organizations
of this country devoted to the interests of the blind.
With the exception of a few of the oldes eastern schools for the
blind, every institution for the education of blind children is sup-
ported at public expense. Even the schools which have private endow-
ments receive more or less state aid. The requirements for admission.
the course and term of instruction and the general plan of work in
every school for the blind in the United States are so similar that,
instead of repeating the same item under each school, we give an
outline of the work in a typical school for the blind. When referring
to the individual institutions, we call attention to special features in
which they differ from this "typical school."
As with residential schools, so with the training of blind children
in the public schools ; the plan is exactly the same in all of the cities
in which blind children attend public schools. We, therefore, give a
brief sketch of the method followed for training such children, and,
as above indicated, will not repeat this statement for the various cities
in which such work is being done.
INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND 9
Commissions, associations, libraries, and pensions for the blind
likewise have fundamental underlying principles which are common
to all of them, and we give what might be termed the objects of these
in the following general statement. See. in this connection, the various
Blind as well as Blindness captions beginning with p. 116, Vol. II,
of this Encyclopedia; also Alphabets and literature for the blind,
p. 249, Vol. I.
RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS FOR THE BLIND.
These schools arc, generally speaking, open to all blind children of
the state who are mentally normal and are at least live years of age.
and not over twenty. There is some slight variation in these age
limits, hut the precise requirements of each institution will be furnished
upon application. The vision of applicants must be too defective to
permit them to follow the usual methods adopted in public schools
for the education of those who see. The course of instruction is very
similar to that given in the public schools. Tt should be noted, however,
that inasmuch as considerable additional time has to be devoted to
either professional or trade training during the closing years of the
student's term, the upper grades in some of the schools do not entirely
approximate similar grades in the public schools. Every school for
the blind has a more or less full course in musical education for those
who are qualified to benefit by the same. Vocal, pianoforte, and, in
many schools, organ instruction is provided, and. in a limited number.
training is given upon orchestral instruments, and sometimes there is
a voluntary hand. Every school gives a course in piano-tuning and
repairing, and many schools have recently purchased the "actions"
of various piano players so thai prospective tuners may have experience
with this increasingly popular instrument. Practically every school
gives training in various trades, those most usually found being broom,
basket, and mattress making, rag carpet and art fabric weaving, and
re-seating of chairs. Girls are all taught hand and machine sewing,
crocheting and knitting, and in most schools are given a more or less
extensive course in domestic science. In all the schools physical train-
ing is given. A number of schools have removed from crowded city
premises to sites in the country where ample playgrounds are provided.
We are unable to give any satisfactory average number of years
that pupils attend state schools. Students are usually allowed to
remain as long as the school is able to give them any real help.
It cannot be too emphatically emphasized that these institutions are
not "Homes" or "Asylums" to which blind children can be sent for
permanent custodial care, but hoarding schools for those who have
12 INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND
been so unfortunate as to lose their sight. Every child leaves the
school during the long summer vacation. It should also be men-
tioned thai parents or guardians have to provide clothing for the
children dining their education. The aim of every school for the
blind in this country is to fit the students for life, that they may become
wholly, or in part, Belf-supporting, and take their places in the com-
munity as respected and self respecting citizens. There are a few
states which have not, as yet, schools of their own; they make appro-
priations so that their blind children can he sent to schools in neigh-
boring states. So general is this provision that every normal blind
child in North America can secure, free of expense, an excellent edu-
cation and 1 raining. No other country in the world makes such
liberal provision for the education of its blind youth, mostly at the
expense of the state.
Alunrni associations. Most schools for the blind have alumni asso-
ciations which meet more or less frequently. Some of the organizations
have been very active and have played a prominent part in fostering
progressive movements in behalf of the blind, not only for graduates
of the institutions they represented, but also for men and women
blinded in adult life.
CO-EDUCATION OK THE BLIND, THE SEMI-BLIND, AND THE SEEING IN-
Tlie first attempt in America to educate blind children side by side
with those who see was made in Chicago. This method of educating
the blind had been begun more than half a century ago in Paisley,
Scotland, and in London, England. In passing, however, it should be
mentioned that the plan in England later resolved itself into what
might be termed "day school centers" for blind children, to which
the pupils were brought from their surrounding homes day by day but
were not placed in classes with their seeing companions, as is the
characteristic feature 'of the present American plan.
The Chicago or, as it is more generally known, "the day school plan."
is as follows: A group of children, usually not more than ten, come
to one of the public schools in the neighborhood of their homes. This
group of bl i ml children is assigned to a special teacher, and to a
special room. The children may lie of all ages, and therefore of
various grades in scholarship. The first duty of the instructor is to
train the pupils to make use of the devices used by the blind to enable
them to interpret with their fingers the text-books used by the seeing.
As soon as a blind child is able to use these devices with sufficient
accuracy and speed, he then goes into the class-room of seeing children
INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND 13
of about the same age, and takes part with his seeing companions in
the regular school work. If the class happens to be reading, the blind
child produces his raised type copy of the book used by his seeing
companions and takes his turn in the same way as does his sighted
classmate. The younger blind children write their compositions in
raised dots. These are later transcribed by the special teacher and
passed on to the grade teacher for correction with the papers prepared
by the seeing children. Older blind children prepare their work on
the typewriter and hand it to the teacher of the grade room in which
they are enrolled.
It will be recognized immediately that this method of education is
only available in cities where there are at least ten or more blind
children. As the population of this country is very scattered, there
always will be' a need for a centrally located residential state insti-
tution. Furthermore, "the day school plan" has been in operation
too short a time for one to make any general assertion as to its ultimate
or comparative success or failure. The points in its favor are economy,
normal home life and association and immediate and constant com-
petition with the seeing. The greatest problem confronting those
responsible for this method of education is how to provide for the
student's professional or trade training. Progressive and broad-
minded superintendents of residential schools for the blind do not
look upon "the day school plan"' as a competitive method of educating
the blind. 1ml rather as a plan which calls for the heartiest cooperation.
By a well-balanced and practical working together of the supervisors
of blind children in both residential and day schools the best results
can unquestionably be secured.
There is one development of the clay school work which should
receive special mention. A number of cities, notably Boston, Cleve-
land. Cincinnati. Toledo, and New York, have made special provision
for children with defective eyesight who are not usually considered
blind. These pupils have sufficient vision to enable them to do a
limited amount of reading of ordinary print, but their defective sight
handicaps them in attempting the work of the regular class-room.
Special rooms having as nearly ideal lighting conditions as can be
found have been set aside for these partially-blind children.
The method of instruction followed makes a judicious use of what
vision these pupils possess, but great care is exercised not to overtax
their weak eyes. Much of the written work is done on the blackboard,
though some pupils are permitted to use a soft pencil, writing in very
large letters upon unglazed paper. Liberal use is also made of the
typewriter. Text books in large print have been prepared for use
14 INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND
in these classes. The pupils attend the grade rooms in the building,
for such work as they can do orally or in a way not to strain their
In Cleveland, where this work lias been most thoroughly organized,
no reasonable expenditure of i ey accessary to bring the work of
these classes up to the highesl efficiency lias been spared. Here it has
been found thai children needing the assistance of such special
classes outnumber to a marked degree the children who are totally
COMMISSIONS FOR THE BLIND.
Organizations committed to the interests of the blind, whether main-
tained by state or private funds, follow the same genera] plan, and
as we have given the fundamentals of a typical school for the blind,
it seems desirable to indicate what activities are carried on by the
organizations concerned with the welfare of the adult blind. These
commissions tnighl be said to concern themselves with all the blind
who lose their sight too late to he admitted to schools for blind youth,
and also with the prevention of unnecessary blindness. The Massa-
chusetts Commission, which may fairly lie said to be the forerunner
'of much of the work for the adult blind, summarize their activities as
follows: J. Maintenance of bureau of information and advice. '2.
Industrial training of blind adults. 3. Employment of blind men and
women in shops and in their own homes; also through salesroom and
special sales. 4. Fostering of home industries by loans, equipment.
etc. 5. Reporting to other agencies for schooling, medical care, relief,
recreation, etc. 6. Acquainting tin 1 public with the capabilities of
the blind. 7. Promoting non-medical work for prevention of blindness
and conservation of eyesight.
In each state where work for the adnlt blind is being undertaken it
will be found thai some, or all. of the before mentioned activities are
being carried on. and in almost every instance some form of home
instruction is being given.
In conclusion, it should he said that all organizations for the adnlt
blind, whether supported by state or by private funds, make a greal
effort to solve the problem, as far as possible, of each individual blind
person. The circumstances connected with each case are given the
mosl careful consideration, and an effort is made to adjust thai person,
in spife of his blindness, to a life of usefulness ami contentment.
ASSOC! \TI(Â»\s FOB 'I'lli: BLIND.
In a general way. il may be said that associations for the blind
attempt to carry out a part, il' not all. of the program which is followed
INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND 15
by almost all Commissions for the Blind. Of course it will be under-
stood that all State Commissions for the Blind are maintained at the
expense of the state, whereas associations derive their income from
philanthropic sources. Some of these associations have sufficiently
large annual budgets to undertake almost all of the work of a Com-
mission, but usually an association's activities are confined to a large
city rather than to a state. Furthermore, tew of the associations have
dour very much as yet relative to the prevention of blindness, except
by arousing public interest in the necessity for such work and by
securing legislation for more effective measures. It should be noted
thai most of the Commissions for the Blind have tome into existence
as a direct result of the activities of the associations for the blind.
LIBRARIES I'"i; THE BLIND.
Every school for the blind lias a Large collection of books in some
form of tactile print, and in many of these institutions libraries are
available to readers throughout their respective localities. In most
states a city or stale library maintains a department for the blind,
which is usually available to residents of the state. Details will be
found under the respective stales.
PENSIONS FOR 'I'm: BLIND.
It is a remarkable fact that although monetary relief was accepted
as a practical form of assisting the blind in England 200 years ago,
no very serious effort was made in America to aid the blind in this
manner until this century. Pensions in England are provided from
funds raised through charitable sources, while in America there is
very little assistance of this hind which is not appropriated from city
or state funds. In 1875 the city of New York began giving a pension
of $50 a year to its blind citizens, hut. so far as known, no other
municipality has undertaken a similar method of assisting ds blind.
In ISPS friends of the blind secured a modification of the Poor Laws
of Ohio and a special section was inserted providing relief for the blind
not to exceed $100 per annum. In 1904 a state "Pension Law for the
Blind" was passed in Ohio, but was declared unconstitutional on the
ground of "class legislation.*' In 1908 a bill was passed "For the
Relief of the Needy Blind" with a maximum allowance of $150 per
year, payable quarterly. Illinois passed a. similar law in 1903, but it
was optional with the counties whether they would make any payments
or not. and. until 1916. when the law became mandatory, little attention
was paid to it. At the present time, the states of Illinois, Iowa, Ohio.
Maine. New Hampshire and "Wisconsin, and the city of New York are
providing outdoor relief for the blind.
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18 INSTITUTIONS FOR THE BLIND
The writer and compiler of the following reports wishes to thank
those workers for the blind â€” hailing from every stale and province â€”
who have furnished and revised the material herein presented. Their
eooperation has enabled him to furnish the most accurate data possible.
School for tin lilind, Talladega. School for whites, founded 1888.
Capacity, 100 pupils. Valuation of plant, $100,000. Annual state
appropriation, $230.00 per capita, based on attendance January 1st.
For requirements for admission, course, term, and purpose of instruc-
tion, see the Introduction to this section. Superintendent, F. H.
Industrial School for White Blind Men, Talladega. As a result
of the efforts of J. S. Laverty, a blind member of the Alabama Legisla-
ture, a bill was passed in 1915 creating an industrial school for white
blind men. No appropriation will be made until February 1, 1917,
when $10,000 becomes available for buildings, and $100 per capita is to
he allowed for maintenance. This school is to be under the manage-
ment of a board of seven trustees, of which Mr. Laverty is the
Libraries for the Blind, Montgomery, Department of Archives and
History, 88 volumes, 66 titles.
Talladega, School for the Blind, 1,101 titles.
State aid for blind infants. A law was passed in 1912 empowering