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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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B. Present Condition.


PRESENT AGE. Of Independent Means.Incapacitated.Probably Helpable. Doubtful.Unknown.Total.
20-39 years, 125 48373 6 -552
40-59 years, 339 4440626-815
Unknown, ----3434
Totals, 464 92 779 32 34 1,401


C. Occupation before and since Blindness occurred.


KIND OF OCCUPATION.Before. Since.Change.
Agricultural, 28 27 -1
Commercial, 31 13 -18
Educational and professional, 88 48 -40
Employer, 17 39+22
Housewife, 139 (2) 163 (3) +24
Housework, 64 (4) 65 (5) +1
Mechanical. 205 115 -90
Musical. 7 42 +35
Unskilled. 170 62 -108
Peddler. 9 9 +20
Students. 133 72-61
No occupation. 476 692 +216
1,367 1,367-
Not stated. 34 34 -
Totals.1,4011,401, -

(2) All women.

(3) All women.

(4) All women.

(5) Includes one man.


In the summer and fall of 1907 we had a special investigation made concerning 253 persons, twenty years of age or under, whose names were found in the commission's register of the blind on June, 1907, The records of 167 blind persons belonging to the same age group, who were known to be enrolled at the Perkins Institution at that date, were excluded from the investigation, as the purpose of the investigation was to ascertain the needs of blind children outside of schools for the blind, with a view of having their needs provided for.


The inquiry was conducted under the direction of Miss Wright, by four temporary visitors, all women, who were selected because of their experience or special aptitude for the work in hand. A special form for noting the facts determined by the visitors was used (see XVII., Appendix B). Our thanks are due to Dr. W. E. Fernald, superintendent of the Massachusetts School for the Feeble-minded at Waltham, for helpful suggestions as to the form of inquiry. The field work, which involved more than 400 visits, anointed to the service of one person four months.


The investigations of the 253 cases taken from the register yielded the following results, summarily stated; --


Number totally blind, 129
Number partially blind, 42
Number not found, 11
Number dead, 15
Number removed from the State, 9
Number over twenty years old, 4
Number not blind, 39
Number unknown, 4
Total, 258


The most important result, of the investigation may be summarily stated as follows: --


I. Blind, 129.


A. Already cared for in public institutions (for defectives or dependents), 13
In Nursery for Blind Babies, 17
In private schools, 2
In workshop for the blind, 1
In good homes: --
Under school age, 4
Mentally defective, 18
Physically incapacitated, 2
B. Number reported to Perkins Institution 25
Number reported to Massachusetts School for Feeble minded, 9
Number reported to Massachusetts Hospital for Epileptics, 1
Number reported to Massachusetts Nursery for Blind Babies, 7
Number reported to State home teachers of blind, 4
Number reported to industrial department of Commission for the Blind, 4
C. Cases for further consideration: --
Mental condition to be determined, 2
Blindness possibly remediable or degree undetermined, 16
Investigations pending, 4


II. Partially Blind, 42.


Having seriously defective sight, and requiring further investigation or treatment, 42
Total, 171


By no means all of the 60 children reported to the institutions specified above have been admitted, but the suitableness of the eases has been acknowledged, and the children are being admitted as rapidly as vacancies occur and as parents can be induced to take action. Through our intervention, 7 of the 42 having defective sight have received medical care.


The discovery by our agents of 25 fit candidates for admission to the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind emphasizes the need, originally pointed out by the Commission on the Adult Blind, of more effective measures than have hitherto obtained for scouring the timely admission of the young blind into the special schools already provided for them by the State. We confidently expect to secure the co-operation of the State Board of Education and of local school officials in devising and carrying out such measures. Of the 25 persons reported to the Perkins Institution, 19 were born in Massachusetts and 16 were over ten years of age, and 6 of these were over fourteen years of age. Assuming that a beginning has now been made in the education of this group, it still remains that the beginning has been delayed, on the average, about four years, because of the neglect of parents and school authorities.


Of the 25 persons referred to, 20 were of foreign and 3 of native parentage, while the parentage of two others was "unknown" or not stated; in 13 cases the parents were Canadian French; the parents of the remaining 7 cases were reported as English, Scotch, Irish, German, Italian, Swedish and Portuguese respectively.


The Commission on the Adult Blind pointed out that the education of blind children was not compulsory in Massachusetts, as it was in some other States. The law relative to compulsory education, viz., section 1, chapter 44 of the Revised Laws, was amended in 1906 by chapter 383 of the Acts of that year (see XII., Appendix A). The essential part of the amendment reads: "No physical or mental condition which is capable of correction or which renders the child a fit subject for special instruction at public charge in institutions other than the public schools shall avail as a defense," etc., for failure of any child between seven and fourteen years of age to attend a public day school.

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