What Is The Perkins School for the Blind?

Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan were two of Perkin's School's most famous students. Editorial credit: catwalker / Shutterstock.com
Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan were two of Perkin's School's most famous students. Editorial credit: catwalker / Shutterstock.com

Perkins School for the Blind caters for the educational needs of the blind and visually impaired in the US. Perkins School is located at Watertown in the state of Massachusetts and it is famous for the manufacture of Perkins smart Braille, a teaching tool. This popular teaching tool is manufactured at the Perkins School solution division which is housed at the former Howe’s Press. The Perkins Brailler is also manufactured here and it is used to print books for the blind.


Perkins School for the Blind believes strongly in excellence and innovation in the education of visually impaired students to enable them to reach their full potential. The rich tradition of Perkins School is what that helps form its future. Also, the mission of Perkins School for the Blind is to prepare blind and visually impaired students with the education, skills, and confidence they need to realize their potential.


Perkins School for the Blind was founded in 1829 in the US and its first director was Samuel Gridley Howe. The revolutionary idea of a school for the blind was conceived by John Dix Fischer who had visited the National Institute for the Blind in Paris. Perkins School was initially named the New England Asylum for the Blind. The name Perkins came after the generous contribution by Colonel Thomas Perkins, a shipowner who was losing his sight at the time the school was being established. Colonel Perkins had given his mansion after the initial host, Howe’s father's house at Planter Street, could not manage the growing number of students. Perkins then sold the mansion and donated the proceeds which enabled the purchase of a spacious building in South Boston. The purchase of six acres of land in 1885 enabled the construction of a kindergarten. Perkins School moved to its present-day campus in Watertown Massachusetts in 1912.

Famous Students

Laura Bridgman was brought to the Perkins School by Samuel Gridley Howe in 1837. Laura was left deaf and blind at the age of two after suffering from scarlet fever. Howe taught her braille and the manual alphabet which enabled her to read and communicate. Laura went on to become a teacher at the Perkins School for the deaf and blind. Laura became famous after the visit of Charles Dickens who noted her progress under Howe’s leadership. Despite the challenges Laura endured including the various separations, she went on to leave a legacy at the school. Anne Sullivan is another famous student to have attended the Perkins School for the Blind. Anne was left blind after she fell ill with trachoma. Anne became a teacher to Helen Keller after graduating from Perkins. Anne’s popularity enabled Perkins to secure funding. Anne’s efforts saw her get honored by honorary degrees from Temple University and Harvard University.

School Today

Perkins School today has formed a partnership with international organizations to provide learning and resources for the visually impaired in 67 countries. This has been made possible by the advancements in technology where Perkins School has gone online for this purpose. Perkins has also helped in the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution program and is a member of the council of schools for the blind.


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