- Helen Keller Services for the Blind
Helen KellerServices for the Blind's mission has been to help individuals of all ages who are blindor visually impaired, and who may have additional disabilities, develop independence and to participate actively in their communities. Headquartered in Brooklyn, the agency has additional rehabilitation sites in Hempstead and Huntington, Long Island and operates the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults in Sands Point, New York.
November 2, 1893, 17 year-old Eben Porter Morford went to a local drug store in Brooklynwhere he was shot. Total blindness resulted and Eben Morford went for training at The New York Institute for the Education of the Blind. A few years passed and when he completed his studies he saw that there was almost no opportunities for employment for blind people.
In 1886 Morford gathered a small group of blind men and women together to try and help others like themselves. They rented a frame house on 96 Lexington Avenue and on
October 1,1893 the Industrial Home for Blind Men opened its doors. Eben Morford was the superintendent and by 1894 seventeen blind men lived in the home. Ten were employed producing 416 cane seats, 28 hair mattresses and 4,500 brooms.
Within two years, on
April 25, 1895, The Industrial Home for the Blind of the City of Brooklyn (IHB) was incorporated. Morford spent 30 years directing the Home. In 1906 he participated in a study on the needs of people who were blind in New York State. This helped inaugurate The New York State Commission for the Blind. In 1917 services for people who were deaf-blind were established. Also that year Morford employed a young Peter J. Salmon, who was legally blind. Eben Morford died January 27, 1928. That year over 600 people who were blind or deaf-blind were served by IHB.
In 1943, on the 50th Anniversary, Helen Keller visited IHB.
During the 1950s, services were established in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. In 1952 IHB established a
Brailleand Large Print Library to make sure that textbooks were available for children who were blind and mainstreamed within their local schools. In 1953 a summer day camp was opened to encourage participation in sports, music and drama. In 1952, Dr. George Hellinger opened the first Low Vision Eye Service within a blindness agency. The purpose of this Service is the optimization of remaining vision of legally blind individuals through the use of optical aids
In 1967 IHB opened a pre-school for children.
During the 1960s, IHB initiated the federally funded Anne Sullivan Macy Service for people who were deaf-blind. IHB received the grant based on its long standing commitment to this special population. Soon after, Dr. Peter J. Salmon, Louis J. Bettica and others advocated for a national center to serve all Americans who were deaf-blind. In 1967 the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) was established by a unanimous act of Congress and IHB was chosen to operate the program which provided comprehensive rehabilitation training for people with a severe dual sensory loss or impairment.
In 1983 IHB established a day treament program for adults who are developmentally disabled and who were also blind or deaf-blind.
In 1985, the Board of Trustees decided to change the name of The Industrial Home for the Blind (IHB) to Helen Keller Services for the Blind (HKSB).
Today, Helen Keller Services for the Blind's programs include:
*Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services – training in safe travel, daily living skills, and Braille, as well as social support, for approximately 2,000 clients each year;
*Low Vision Clinics – optometrists teaching clients how to maximize residual vision by using specialized lighting, lenses and magnifiers;
*Children’s Learning Center – educational and therapeutic services for young children, birth to age five, who are blind and/or multi-handicapped, with a resource center for families;
*Vocational Assessment and Job Placement – full spectrum of employment services for adults seeking work in a variety of career areas;
*Assistive Technology Centers – assessment and training in the use of adaptive software for computers, with keyboarding instruction when necessary;
*Preschool Vision Screening Program – screens nearly 25,000 children a year for eye disorders that may lead to permanent visual impairment if not detected and treated;
*Camp Helen Keller – six-week summer day camp for children ages 4-15;
*Children’s Saturday Program – recreational, educational, and vocational activities for children during the school year;
*Louis Anzalone Braille Center – produces textbooks in Braille and large-print for students in grades K-12;
*Senior Centers – group activities and social services for individuals over the age of 55;
*Day Treatment Program – educational and therapeutic services for adults who are blind and have additional developmental disabilities;
*Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) – community residence for six Day Treatment clients.
* [http://www.helenkeller.org/ Helen Keller Services for the Blind]
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