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Education Committee Hears Dr. Hartwell, Dean Irwin Of Radcliffe And Others

Creator: n/a
Date: February 18, 1904
Publication: Boston Transcript
Source: Perkins School for the Blind

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Education Committee Hears Dr. Hartwell, Dean Irwin of Radcliffe and Others on Establishment of a Board for the Improvement of Their Condition


The Committee on Education gave a hearing on the report of the special commission appointed last year to investigate the Condition of the adult blind In the Commonwealth, and the bill drafted by the commission for the establishment of a board for the improvement of the condition of this clam of citizens. The hearing was conducted by Dr. Edward M. Hartwell, chairman of the commission.


Mr. Alpheus H. Hardy, a member of the commission, said that a large percentage of the blind are beyond the age when they can be benefited by industrial training. The commission had eliminated at onto the subject of pensions, as they did not wish to recognize the blind as paupers. The commission felt that there was a need of more information before they could suggest any policy, and thought that the work should be continued by a permanent board, The investigations had shown that, while many new openings of endeavor might be discovered, as soon as the adult blind were brought into factories, they would be brought into competition in a fled already largely occupied. He thought it would be a financial failure to open a factory.


A New York commission had been at work during the same time as the Massachusetts commission, and both had found that a large percentage of the adult blind were too old to undertake work in industrial pursuits. The commission felt that the work of the State just now should be tentative, but it was unanimous in the belief that the work should be continued by a board.


Miss Agnes Irwin, dean of Radcliffe College and a member of the commission, urged that Massachusetts should make a study of the subject. The commission had learned how ignorant they were of the conditions surrounding the adult blind, and urged a continuance of the work.


Rev. Edward Cummings of Boston, president of the Massachusetts Association for Promoting the Interests of the Adult Blind, said that not since the days of Dr. Howe had there been no much to encourage the hopeful adult blind. They wanted work to help themselves, rather than to be paupers. He told of the public interest in the work of the association and the commission and of how the association had had to engage a lecturer to go about the State to satisfy the public demand for information. In four months the lecturer had spoken forty times. He believed the committee should not hesitate a moment in voting in favor of the small appropriation sought for the continuance of the work.


Dr. Hartwell said that, had the industrial training of children in schools not been neglected in Massachusetts, the question of caring for the adult blind would not have become so serious a problem. If they had been trained in school, they would now be able to care for themselves.


Samuel B. Capen of Boston approved of the report of the commission, claiming its moderation to be its strength and that its wisdom was manifest, in that it did not commit the State to an expensive policy. The blind were handicapped, and they merely ask that somehow their weakness may be supplemented by the strength of the State.


J. W. Smith, formerly of the Perkins Institution and now a member of the Connecticut State Board of Education for the Blind, told of the work done in that State, and asserted that not more than ten per cent of the blind children found their way into institutions.


Dr. J. Payson Clark of Boston was in hearty accord with the purpose of the bill. He said that no provision was made for the blind in pauper institutions, that is, to give them occupation. This class ought to be given an opportunity.


In response to a question, Dr. Hartwell said that the probable cost per year of the school shops would not exceed $20,000.


There was no opposition, and the hearing closed.