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First Annual Report Of The Massachusetts Commission For The Blind

Creator: n/a
Date: 1908
Publisher: Wright & Potter, Boston
Source: Mount Holyoke College Library

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The register of the blind, which is kept at our office in the Ford Building, on Jan. 1, 1907, contained the records, set forth on cards, of 3,806 blind persons, -- an increase of 130 over 3,676, the number of the blind finally returned by the State census of 1905. As the basis for the register, this commission became possessed, soon after its organization, of about 3,837 cards, which had been prepared by the Commission on the Adult Blind in 1904 and 1905. The cards included: (1) 2,802 transcribed from the preliminary unpublished returns of the census enumerators; (2) the records of 433 cases especially investigated by the agents of the Commission on the Adult Blind and of the Association for promoting the Interests of the Adult Blind; and (3) 202 transcribed from the records of the home teachers of the blind. Necessarily the register is continually changing; the general result is that thus far additions exceed eliminations, although it is likely that the number registered includes some records of persons who have died or removed from the State. This will doubtless be remedied as time goes on, as we have in mind means of securing from local boards and officials, from hospitals and physicians more timely information of deaths among the blind and of the occurrence of new cases of blindness. We particularly hope for the co-operation of the school authorities (under whose auspices the annual school census is taken throughout the Commonwealth) in our attempt to complete our list of the blind children of school age. This is an important desideratum, as the education of a surprisingly large number of blind children is now unduly delayed through the apathy or ignorance of parents and the indifference of school officials. The following statement summarizes the changes in the register of the blind since the report of the Commission on the Adult Blind was made in January, 1905: --


Number of the blind in the State by preliminary returns 1905, 2,802
Additions and corrections to census list, 874
Additions and corrections made by this commission, July, 1906, to Jan. 1, 1907, 130
Changes, Jan. 1, 1907, to Dec. 1, 1907, deduct for deaths 86, removals 21, 107
Add new cases recorded, 208
Number registered Dec. 1, 1907, 3,907


It is not claimed that the register is altogether complete, but is unquestionably the fullest and most useful list yet made of the blind in Massachusetts. It embodies a large and constantly increasing amount of information, obtained through the personal investigation by our agents of individual cases. We have established friendly relations with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, various charitable organizations and the Perkins Institution, with the result that many new cases of blindness are prompt referred to us for advice and aid. By it we are enabled to turn at practical account the returns of the State census, which, prior to the passage of chapter 1, Resolves of 1905, could be used for statistical purposes only, as names and addresses were never divulged.


We have adopted an improved form of record card (see XVI., Appendix B). In addition to the register proper, in which the card are arranged alphabetically according to the names of the blind we have had a card index made, in which the names are arranged by cities and towns, so that information can be readily given to applicants who are entitled to receive it. The register has already proved its value as a means of guidance to the commission in its efforts to improve the condition of the blind, and as a source of information to friends of the blind, public officials and students of special problems relating to the causes and prevalence of blindness.


Statistical analysis of the register, as of Jan. 1, 1907, yields the following summary statement: --




I. Present Age.


PRESENT AGE. Number. Per Cent.
Under 20 years, 434 11.4
20-59 years, 1,401 36.8
60 years or over, 1,971 61.8
Totals, 3,806 100.0


II. Period when Blindness occurred.


PERIOD. Number. Per Cent.
Under 20 years, 1,094 28.8
0-1 year, 472 -
2-4 years, 176 -
5-19 years, 446 -
20-59 years, 1,387 36.4
20-39 years, 558 -
40-59 years, 829 -
60 years or over, 1,136 29.8
Not stated, 190 5.0
Totals, 3,8013 100.0


III. Cause of Blindness.


PRESENT AGE.CongenitalDiseaseAccidentAccident and DiseaseNot stated.Total.
Under 20 years, 112 186 47 2 87 34
20-39 years, 82 311 85 2 86 566
40-59 years, 32 491 142 8 162 835
60-79 years, 25 951 169 15 251 1,411
80 years or over, 643436579560
Totals257 2,373 479 32665 3,806


IV. Age Group 20-59 Years.


A. Period when Blindness occurred,


PRESENT AGE0-45-19Total.20-39.40-59.Total.Unknown.Aggregate.
20-39 years, 192 178 370 161 - 161 21552
40-59 years, 97 106 203 259 328 587 25815
Unknown,------ 34 34
Totals, 289 284 573 420 328 748 80 1,401

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