Perkins School for the Blind's Legacy

Two students in the geography room at at the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind in South Boston. They are working on a dissected map of North America on a podium that has a detachable puzzle piece for each state in the United States.

Perkins Institution campus in the old Mt. Washington Hotel building in South Boston, ca. 1890.

As the first school established for the blind in the United States, Perkins plays an important role in the history of education in America.

More than 175 years ago, Perkins’ founders were committed to opening the doors to education, literacy and independence for people who are blind and deafblind.

Samuel Gridley Howe, the first director of the Perkins School for the Blind, taught his students to see the world using the eyes in their fingertips. His mission was to adapt all educational methods to this new way of learning.

Because so few books for the blind were available, Howe devised his own system for printing and reading and began publishing books on campus. In addition to producing tactile books, the Howe Press perfected the mechanical braille typewriter. Today, the Perkins Brailler is considered the pen and pencil for people who are blind all over the world.

The legacies of Laura Bridgman, Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller can be felt everywhere on campus. Perkins’ best-known student, Helen Keller, flourished while studying here and is highly regarded around the world for her efforts to assure equal benefits and full rights for all people, particularly those with disabilities. In addition, there are a number of figures in Perkins' history who contributed to Perkins' heritage.

The Perkins Museum traces the history of educating students who are blind or deafblind in many disciplines including Reading and Writing, Geography, Math, Science, Music and Sports. The museum showcases the school’s rich history captured in original correspondence, photographs and tactile images, including the oldest and largest tactile globe in the United States. We invite you to explore our legacy: