For "Children Who Vary..."

Chapter Four continued...
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A similar pattern of development evolved in the education of blind persons. As with deaf education, the origins of progress in the education of blind individuals were found in Europe. Denis Diderot, who had written philosophically oriented tracts on deafness, did so on blindness as well; his work informed that of Valentin Hauy, whose efforts in the eighteenth century drew attention from royalty and the public. Hauy is credited with establishing in 1784 the first formal school in the world for blind individuals. In 1832 Louis Braille developed his system of raised symbols to make reading possible for blind individuals, the first of many such systems created in the nineteenth century. In that same year the Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind, which soon came to be known as the Perkins Institution in honor of an early benefactor, was established with Samuel Gridley Howe as its director.

Howe, like Gallaudet, traveled to Europe to research educational methods and to recruit teachers for his institution. The school had received a charter as well as six thousand dollars from the state in 1829 to assist its efforts to educate indigent children; it opened with six students. The New York School for the Blind also opened in 1832, with another in Pennsylvania commencing the following year. By 1900 thirty-seven schools for the blind existed; some of these also taught deaf individuals. Typically these schools combined academic study with work in manual and vocational training and in music. Reading and writing of course required specialized instructional methods, usually utilizing tactile devices such as three-dimensional maps, manipulatives, and raised type. Howe believed strongly in the importance of physical exercise and music, especially singing. Various types of raised type existed in addition to Braille, some of which used the regular alphabet or a modified version. Braille, with its system of six-dot symbols, eventually became dominant by 1900. Efforts were made to normalize the education of the blind as Howe and others believed that "we should endeavor to make them, in their habits and temperament, as like the seeing as possible. . . ." Institutions for the blind throughout the United States followed Howe's lead and employed similar approaches in their educational programs. As with deaf education, the education of the blind received boosts from national associations such as the American Association of Instructors of the Blind as well as from the work and products of the American Printing House for the Blind.

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