The rich history of Perkins began with its founding over 175 years ago as the first school for the blind in the United States. Within a few short years, Perkins became known for its effective instructional techniques, including teaching Laura Bridgman, the first known deaf-blind person to be educated. Later, a much more famous student, Helen Keller, came to Perkins on her way to breaking down barriers and perceptions about what people who are blind or deaf-blind can accomplish.
Perkins School for the Blind is an innovative leader in serving people with visual impairments. Strong leadership from both staff and the Board of Trustees has created a legacy of education and discovery. We are always questioning how to best serve our students in the classroom, in the community and around the world. While Perkins is proud of all that has been achieved since 1832, we believe there is still much work to be done. For more information, please visit Perkins School for the Blind.
When Helen was 19 months old, she was afflicted by an unknown illness, possibly scarlet fever or meningitis, which left her deaf and blind. Helen was extremely intelligent and tried to understand her surroundings through touch, smell, and taste. However, she began to realize that her family members spoke to one another with their mouths instead of using signs as she did.
Feeling their moving lips, she flew into a rage when she was unable to join in the conversation. By the age of six, Helen later wrote in her autobiography, “the need of some means of communication became so urgent that these outbursts occurred daily, sometimes hourly.”