The Perkins School
From Disability History
Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe started the Perkins School over 175 years ago as the first school for the blind in the United States.
Shortly after opening the school, Samuel Gridley Howe began to establish a separate printing department in the school to produce embossed books. Howe hoped to entice well-known authors to use the school to emboss their books. As fate would have it, Howe attracted the attention of Charles Dickens, who used Perkins School to print and distribute 250 copies of his book, The Old Curiosity Shop.
Dickens visited Perkins in 1842 during a lecture tour of America and was amazed at the work Howe was doing with Laura Bridgman, a young deafblind girl who came to the school in 1837. So impressed was Dickens that he wrote about his visit in his book, American Notes. Years later, Kate Adams Keller, mother of a young deafblind girl named Helen, read the book. The book provided a ray of hope for the couple's six-year-old daughter, Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing when she was only 19 months old.
Today, the Perkins School for the Blind continues to be an innovative leader in serving people with visual impairments.