Clio Logo
Historic Public Schools for Individuals with Disabilities
Item 1 of 5
The Perkins School for the Blind, founded in 1829 by Dr. John Dix Fisher, is the first school for the blind in the U.S. Fisher was inspired by his trip to Paris visiting the National Institute for the Blind and hoped to establish an institution which improves the life of people with disabilities. There are about 200 students on campus, and the school dedicates to help young people with blindness and deafblindness by providing them with education and skills they need in daily life. It also holds community service program, courses, and training for students and professionals.

The original name of the school is The New England Asylum for the Blind, and it then changed the name to appreciate Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a member of the Board of Trustees of the school. This is because Perkins donated his home for the school to accept more students, and he even sold the house later so that the school could move to another better location. Such effort promotes the development of the school and helps the blind or deafblind to receive education.

Perkins is famous for its effective teaching approaches which helps many people. The first director of the school, Samuel Gridley Howe, successfully educated the deafblind for the first time throughout the history, and the student is called Laura Bridgman. During that time, people did not believe that deafblind people could be educated, whereas the school’s director never gave up the hope to change the life of people with disabilities. Another famous student graduating from Perkins is Helen Keller, who broke down people’s stereotypical view about the blind as well.

Perkins School for the Blind offers the Expanded Core Curriculum for students. This is a program that enables people with visual impairments or deafblindness to get a variety of skills. It helps cultivate not only students’ practical vocational abilities, but their mental health which is quite essential for their future lives. 

Now, Perkins has five distinctive lines focusing on different areas, while all the lines have the same goal to change the life of the blind and give them equal opportunities as common people. It includes Perkins School for the Blind, Perkins International, Perkin Solutions, Perkins eLearning, and Perkins Library. These programs and services engage the blind from all over the world and of different ages to share the benefit of Perkins and have a better life.

Disability History Museum. Annual Report Of The Trustees Of The New-England Institution For The Education Of    
    The Blind, 1833. Accessed October 4, 2018. 

Perkins School for the Blind. "About Perkins School for the Blind." Accessed October 3, 2018.

VCU Libraries | Social Welfare History Project. "Perkins School for the Blind." Accessed October 3, 2018.