Perkins Expands Mission, Reach
Commitment to Literacy through Braille Evident in Launch of New Identity and Product
What is the key to enduring success? Change! Perkins School for the Blind announced on Oct. 15, 2012, that it is streamlining its name to simply “Perkins.” The name change comes after a year-long exploration within the Perkins community. The name “Perkins” supports the organization’s growing commitment to people who are blind in close to 70 countries around the world where Perkins advocates, educates and trains.
“We are no longer just a small school for the blind in Watertown, Massachusetts; we are a global NGO with considerable reach. We constantly work to ensure that the 4.5 million children in the world today who do not go to school simply because they are blind or deafblind get the opportunity to get an education,” said Steven Rothstein, president of Perkins.
Closer to home, a growing concern is the unemployment rate of greater than 70 percent for people who are blind in the U.S. This is a significant statistic Perkins believes can be tackled through education. “It is imperative that children who are blind be taught braille if they are to succeed in the workforce,” continued Rothstein. A new logo incorporates braille and reflects Perkins’ advocacy of literacy through braille. “High-tech tools are wonderful, but I cannot imagine children who are sighted being asked to rely solely on technology in lieu of reading a book and writing with a pen and pencil. Why then would it be okay to say a child who is blind no longer needs to learn braille?”
Perkins is also announcing the official launch of the Perkins SMART Brailler®, a braille writer that for the first time ever gives sighted users equal access to the information available to users who are blind. The new device incorporates computer technology to offer audio and visual feedback coupled with hard copy braille output. This combination allows sighted parents and teachers to know what is being brailled in real time, making it possible for someone who does not know braille to participate in teaching someone who is blind how to read and write.
A YouTube video introducing and demonstrating the Perkins SMART Brailler®
“The SMART Brailler will revolutionize how many children with visual impairments are taught, especially those in public schools or other learning environments where they may be the only student who is visually impaired. It means parents in a remote location can help teach their child to learn to read and write braille, even if they have never learned braille,” said David Morgan, vice president & general manager of Perkins Products. “Expanding literacy through braille will promote opportunities for many people who are blind. The SMART Brailler will be a critical component in helping to foster greater independence and, ultimately, more active engagement in society.”
Also today, President Barack Obama proclaimed October 15 “Equality Day” for Americans who are blind. Since 1964, this date has been designated “White Cane Safety Day.”
Read the President’s proclamation here.
“We have big goals and know we have to start with small steps. Even so,” concludes Perkins’ president Rothstein, “we have no doubt we will change the world in a positive and measurable way.”