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THE EDUCATIONAL NEEDS

As we have viewed the work for the blind in other states, where there are older schools and institutions, there has come the consciousness that it is most important that the blind child should begin its education at an early age and should have modern and adequate facilities and equipment. We have been glad to note and to encourage a desire upon the part of the Connecticut Institute for the Blind to enlarge and to improve its departments. The nursery has strengthened its teaching corps and, what is especially gratifying, has introduced the sight saving work for a little group of children who have some sight. Through the good offices of the Hartford Rotarians the building has been enlarged, providing a delightful and up-to-date school room as well as more sleeping porches for the little folk. The School has enlarged its curriculum and is now prepared to take its pupils through the second year of high school work. Stress is being laid upon the physical development of the blind child and plans have been formulated which ultimately will mean a fine new gymnasium. At the Trades Department the men and women who are sent there for training by the state are taught to read the embossed type and to use the typewriter. It is a heartening experience to note the results which are attained there in the schoolroom with aliens who were not able to read or write English when they could see, and with men who are past middle life and who have had sight destroyed and fingers blown off in accidents. Painstaking efforts such as this deserve hearty commendation.

As we visit the homes of the comparatively small group of blind adults in this state who, as pupils from Connecticut, received the advantages of the excellent training which they were given at Perkins Institution twenty-five and more years ago, we realize how much the school training means to the blind child in after years in the ability to follow useful and normal pursuits. We are desirous therefore that every child and young man or woman who will profit thereby should have a good education. The Board has encouraged some who are specially qualified to continue their education in special schools and colleges. In June, 1924, a young man who has no sight was granted his master's degree at Harvard, after he had taken his bachelor's degree at Trinity College. Another young man is studying for his bachelor's degree at Yale. A young woman is preparing to enter the Connecticut College for Women in the fall of 1924, while two young women are preparing to go to Philadelphia, one to study at Drexel Institute and the other to take a special course at the Pennsylvania School of Social and Health Work to fit herself for home teaching. A young man is to take a special course in the fall of 1924 in insurance salesmanship at the Evening School of Accounts and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania.

We have been glad to encourage and to foster these efforts in behalf of those specially qualified, and to place emphasis upon character and education as essentials for our young blind who are seeking employment in positions of trust. We believe that a policy such as this must be adhered to in this state, and must be reiterated with renewed impressiveness, if Connecticut is to attain a place of leadership in work for the blind.

INCREASE IN PUPILS

There has been a marked increase in the number of pupils at the School Department. Each year finds a new high record of registration at that institution. At the Nursery the pupilage is more constant, while at the Trades Department there is a slow growth. The population of our state is increasing, which accounts for some of this growth, but the fact that our work is becoming better known is a more potent factor. The registration of state pupils for the school year 1921-22 was as follows: School 60; Trades 22; Nursery 14; Perkins Institution 3; Overbrook 1; Trinity College 1; Yale School of Music 1; total 102. The registration for 1923-24 was: School 67; Trades 20; Nursery 14; Perkins Institution 3; Overbrook 1; Harvard 1; Danquard Player Action School 1; Saginaw Training School 1; total 108.

We have viewed with some anxiety the considerable increase in the number of children with some vision, but who cannot attend public school classes without serious eyestrain, who are being referred to us. We believe that it is better for a child to remain in his own home and mingle with children in the public schools if it is possible for him to do so with safety. This brings us to the consideration of the conservation of vision, which is now an abundant field of endeavor for those who would work intelligently.

CONSERVATION OF VISION

A little more than a decade since, a movement was brought here from England, known as conservation of vision classes, which has been tried out in California, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin and has proven highly successful. The classes are conducted in the public schools and large type books and special equipment is used. Children are admitted whose sight cannot be corrected with glasses to a point where it is feasible for them to take their work in the regular grades. Most states where these classes have been introduced have allowed per capita grants for the children in these classes from state funds to supplement the money the city or town has appropriated for the work. The School Department organized one of these classes several years since and the Nursery now has such a class.

The Board appointed a special committee about two years since, consisting of Mr. Edward M. Day, Miss Marian Feuchtwanger and the secretary, to further conservation of vision. The committee chose New Haven, our largest city, and has worked in cooperation with Mr. F. H. Beede, the superintendent of schools, and the Board of Education. Mrs. Winifred Hathaway, secretary of the National Committee for the Prevention of Blindness, was invited to address a meeting of all the public school teachers in the city and several motion picture films depicting phases of sight saving work were shown. The cooperation of Dr. Eugene M. Blake, a leading ophthalmologist of the city, was secured and members of the committee appeared with Dr. Blake at a meeting of the New Haven Board of Education and presented the need of such work. It is a pleasure to report that New Haven has decided to establish a class and that it will be in operation very soon.

The committee has now started work in Bridgeport and has been fortunate in securing the sympathetic interest of Mr. E. E. Cortright, superintendent of schools. The plan is to have Mrs. Hathaway come there in the fall and address such a meeting as was held in New Haven.

We believe that Hartford, Waterbury, New Britain, Stamford, Meriden, and other cities should recognize the importance of this work and should plan to establish classes. Statistics show that

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an average of one child in every 500 of the school population is in need of such protection.

One reason why the Connecticut cities have been slow to take up such work is that in practically every state, where the conservation of vision classes have been established, there has been a state grant to supplement the special appropriation made by the city or town. Connecticut has never appropriated money for this purpose, although there is a statute pertaining to “educationally exceptional children" which would permit such action if the General Assembly would grant the funds. It is especially gratifying therefore to realize that a beginning is to be made and that the community is to assume the entire expense.

PREVENTION OF BLINDNESS

The contact of the Board with a considerable number of blind people in their homes offers opportunities to secure specialists' services for those who cannot afford it. The State Board of Education now refers the cases of children in rural communities who are too poor to pay for glasses. We have visited a number of the almshouses and have secured specialists' services, and in some cases have arranged for operations for the inmates. We have provided all the eye specialists in the state with blanks which can be returned to us, reporting the cases of needy people who have eye troubles. This assures follow up work from an organization which has a quick and sympathetic understanding of such conditions. Miss Feuchtwanger has addressed a large group of nurses in New Haven on the work of the Board, which has resulted there in a more appreciative understanding of eye cases. In several of the larger cities, notably New Haven and Hartford, the dispensaries have shown a ready desire to work with us.

COOPERATION WITH AGENCIES

We have been able to establish a spirit of cooperation with public and private social agencies throughout the state which is somewhat unusual in state work. We encourage our workers to welcome relationships of this sort, for it has been our observation that we can accomplish our ends more intelligently, and can come nearer to our ideals in our work by so doing.

PLACEMENT

We believe that an organization such as this should give painstaking attention to studying the young blind under its care for the purpose of guiding them vocationally, and to thoughtful and persistent efforts in making wise placements of the qualified adult blind in congenial work where they can earn their living. Much prudence and restraint should be exercised in such placements, else the work will be brought into disrepute with employers and the public, who will gain unfavorable impressions of the blind and their abilities when mistakes are made in selecting blind persons who have not the qualities and ability to earn their living in competition with those who see. The Board has done careful work in the placement field in the past, and can point to workers in factories and in special vocations who are demonstrating their ability to do their work well. One factory superintendent, where a totally blind man had been working on power machinery for some months, wrote to ask us if we had another blind person who was as capable, since he would like to give him employment. We have been gathering a good set of photographs of blind people we have placed, showing them engaged at their work, and these have proven most helpful in interviewing prospective employers. It is the regret of our secretary that, in the press of other work, he cannot find time to do what is needed here.

THE SUB-NORMAL BLIND

No one can remain long in this field without realizing the tremendous problem presented by the sub-normal blind and those of low mentality. They oftentimes make a very strong appeal to the sympathic impulses of a worker, who realizes that something could be done for them if there were only time enough to study their cases and to work out plans to meet their particular needs. Here again the Board finds its desire to do what it would like to curtailed by lack of time and workers.

HOME TEACHING

The number of home teachers was doubled in the fall of 1923, so that the work accomplished in this field in the last half of the

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