Schools for the Blind and Deaf

It's time they were both SEEN and HEARD

Education of the Blind and Deaf in Europe

The first ever education institution for the blind was established by Valentin Hauy in France in 1784. Many other institutions were established in England and Scotland in the later years. Braille, the writing method of blind people, was created in 1820.

The Beginning in America

Thomas Gallaudet established the American School for the Deaf in 1817, after learning many techniques to teach deaf children while in Europe. This school was the first of its kind in North America.

Perkins School for the Blind

Dr. John Dix Fisher, blind Historian William Prescott, Colonel Thomas Perkins and members of the Lowell family came together to create the New England Asylum for the Blind, which later became the Perkins School for the Blind in the year 1829. (Asylum was used as the names of early boarding schools). Samuel Gridley Howe, the first director of the school, perfected the Braille Typewriter.

Growth of Blind and Deaf Education

In 1832, The Overbrook School for the Blind was established in Philadelphia. Schools for the Blind began to spring up all around the eastern part of the US. In 1864, the Columbia Institution for the Deaf at Washington was established in the nation's capital, which is now called Gallaudet University. The primary focus of blind education became to teach the blind "blind trades", such as basket weaving, rug weaving, etc. This method later proved to be ineffective. Deaf education shifted to teaching the deaf to speak.

Modern Years

Several Blind workers labor unions, such as the AAWB and the AAIB were formed for the assistance of blind workers. These organizations helped blind people get education and find work. In 1918, Braille was accepted by the Federal Government as the national standard of teaching blind people. The Smith-Fess act of 1918, aimed at returning WWI veterans, also allowed disabled people to use federal money to train themselves to become self supporting. In 1975, Congress passed P.L. 94-142, which guaranteed public education to children with disabilities. This inadvertently cause a decline in private schools such as the Perkins School for the Blind, because education for these children was now free.
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