FAQ’s

Admissions

All students must go through an admission process to determine eligibility and acceptance into a Perkins Educational Program. Contact our Admissions department today to learn more.

As the parent of a son or daughter with special needs, you have the right to an independent educational evaluation for your child, as allowed under the federal special education law Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). You can read detailed descriptions of your parental rights in "A Parent's Guide to Special Education," a free online publication produced by the Massachusetts Department of Education and The Federation for Children with Special Needs. If you reside outside of Massachusetts, the Center for Parent Information and Resources has a helpful guide. In addition, our staff will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your parental safeguards.

Perkins meets students where they are. Depending on your child's unique needs, they will fall onto a track. Keep in mind, Perkins continuously monitors progress and assesses students to ensure they are challenged appropriately.

Your child’s educational team will be determined by your child’s learning profile. We have specialists in orientation and mobility, speech and language pathology, physical and occupational therapy, individual and group counseling and assistive technology. They are the best in their fields and all share a common goal: to educate and prepare our students for independence today and later in life.

Any and all means of communication are developed and encouraged throughout our Deafblind Program. Our holistic approach helps us meet each student at his or her own level of communicative ability, and may include any or all of the following:

Touch Cues, Gestures, Objects, Tactile Symbols, Pictures/Visual Systems, Print/Braille, Assistive Technology (AT) and/or Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) Low and High Tech, Speech/Voice, Sign Language, and/or Tactile Sign Language

The first step in gaining access to Perkins’ Infant-Toddler services is to enroll your child in Early Intervention through Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health. Complete this referral form and email it to Emily Lowenstein ([email protected]) or Katie Tefft ([email protected])They will be in touch once they receive the new referral. We continue to accept new referrals into our Infant-Toddler program.

Any and all means of communication are developed and encouraged throughout our Deafblind Program. Our holistic approach helps us meet each student at his or her own level of communicative ability, and may include any or all of the following:

Touch Cues, Gestures, Objects, Tactile Symbols, Pictures/Visual Systems, Print/Braille, Assistive Technology (AT) and/or Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) Low and High Tech, Speech/Voice, Sign Language, and/or Tactile Sign Language

Community Programs

The first step in gaining access to Perkins’ Infant-Toddler services is to enroll your child in Early Intervention through Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health. Complete this referral form and email it to Emily Lowenstein ([email protected]) or Katie Tefft ([email protected])They will be in touch once they receive the new referral. We continue to accept new referrals into our Infant-Toddler program.

Research supports the benefits of telehealth. Through it, your child and family can continue valuable early intervention services without fear of exposure to illness. Telehealth aligns with the Early Interventions approach, the Parents Interacting with Infants Model (PIWI), as it supports a family coaching model. These strategies have been shown to increase family engagement and empowerment as families apply what they have learned to their daily routines.

If you haven’t already, you will hear from your child’s teacher and/or social worker with information about telehealth services and how to coordinate these services. Your child’s teacher from Perkins will work with you to determine which mode of communication will work best for you.

The cost of the PEP is $4,000. This program qualifies for Pre-ETS funding in Massachusetts. Please contact the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind or your state’s vocational rehabilitation office for more information.

Living on campus is both convenient and a learning experience for PEP students. After classes are finished for the day, they’ll be able to work on their independent living skills and socialize with peers in one of Perkins’ fully accessible residential cottages. The residential component also allows students who don't live nearby to attend the program. 

Our students exit the program with an action plan. That plan includes follow-up activities spelled out, such as leads to pursue and network connections to make. They’ll have a career portfolio that includes a personal data sheet, sample resume and cover letter, references and letters of recommendation in hard copy and on a USB drive. They’ll have practiced when and how to disclose their visual impairment to a potential employer, and they’ll have networked with real-world hiring managers and human resources professionals. And finally, they’ll have a network of peers and mentors they can call upon as they navigate the working world independently. The PEP will give your young adult the skills to compete and the confidence to pursue success.

Absolutely. Accessible technology is a critical tool in almost any work environment for people with blindness or low vision, and enables those individuals to perform almost any job a sighted person can do. We’ll discuss which tools – screen readers, braille notetakers, magnifiers, etc. – work best, and also cover accessible technology that’s built into mainstream devices like smartphones and tablets. We’ll also coach your young adult on advocating for him or herself in the workplace and having the confidence to ask for those tools to get the job done. 

The PEP is a week-long program held during most Massachusetts schools’ February break. The 2020 program begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 16 and end at 12 p.m. on Saturday, February 22.

Young adults with blindness and visual impairment need more preparation and hands-on experience than their sighted peers, because they miss out on the incidental learning that occurs naturally for people with sight. The PEP provides insight on resume writingsocial etiquette in the workplace, transportation strategies and much more – critical skills and knowledge that will benefit any young adult, sighted or blind. Just as importantly, the PEP also teaches young adults how to keep that job once they land it.

Early work experiences are a key predictor of future employment success. The sooner young adults with blindness or visual impairment gain workplace experience, the better prepared they will be to compete for jobs with sighted peers. Many young adults work entry-level jobs in the summer or on weekends. If your teenager delays that experience, he or she is missing out on critical experience employers will look for after high school or college.

Once your initial inquiry has been received, you will be sent an application. This will help us determine who will be accepted. PLEASE NOTE: Completing an application does not guarantee your child's placement in a program. You will receive communication from Outreach staff regarding an official acceptance, should your child be accepted into a program. For weekend and school vacation short courses, acceptances are made at least two weeks prior to the program.

We work with families of students who are reluctant to spend the night and come up with a plan to address the issue. We want to make your child’s experience a success and hope that they will continue to participate in the Outreach programs.

Outreach supplies all sheets, pillows and towels for your child’s stay on campus. Students are welcome to bring their own pillows or blankets if it helps them feel more comfortable.

Yes. However, your child will be very busy during the day. The best time to call is in the evening prior to bedtime. Your child will have access to a phone to call home if needed. Outreach is not responsible for lost cell phones or expenses incurred.

One of our main goals is to encourage and support new peer relationships, which is often challenging with parents present. We are available to talk about your child’s participation and you will receive a report documenting your child’s participation.

It is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to reach out to their respective funding source prior to attending an Outreach program. Funding for Perkins programs is often available through the state commission for the blind. However, they require that you contact them prior to signing your child up for a program. You can also occasionally find funding through your school district, Lion’s Club charities, church groups or other organizations willing to contribute. If you are unable to secure funding, contact us about full and partial scholarship opportunities for Outreach.

Compass

Compass meets the criteria for Pre-Employment Transition Services. Students who participate in the program may be eligible for funding through their state agency for the blind. Additional funding sources may include support from the student’s school district or private pay. For more information on cost or funding options, please email [email protected] or call 617-972-7573.

Absolutely! Students from all over the nation are welcome and encouraged to apply.

Compass provides services in all five pillars of Pre-ETS. Visit our Pre-ETS page for more information about how Compass aligns.

Each member of the Learning Triad will have access to up to one hour of weekly coaching sessions as well as monthly workshops lasting 3-4 hours. While this may seem like a large or small amount of time depending on perspective, the goal is to streamline and coordinate efforts of the whole student network, growing the student’s readiness for increasing independence and challenges of college, career and young adulthood.

Participation in Compass will look different for each student and their team. Some students will have a participating TVI while others may have a different member of their learning network such as a VR counselor, case manager, transition counselor, guidance counselor, social worker, and so on.

A member of the student’s learning network such as the TVI is encouraged to participate in group workshops and individual sessions with a Compass Coach. The role of the educator is to support the student in developing and implementing an action plan that outlines the steps towards college readiness.

Families are a critical part of students’ learning networks and in ensuring that skills transfer from school to home. Families with a participating Compass student are encouraged to designate one or more family members to participate in regular coaching sessions and workshop activities. The ideal family member is a parent/guardian or other relative who is a significant and frequent support to the student. More than one family member is welcome to participate in the sessions.

Compass is a virtual program that requires students to participate in tele-meetings and virtual learning. Students should have the skills to utilize one or more devices for word processing, document collaboration and sharing, email, and web conferencing.

Students who rely on assistive technology such as screen readers, magnification or refreshable braille should know how to use these features in conjunction with mainstream tools such as Zoom. Compass staff will be available to provide basic troubleshooting and tech support during the program, but training on the use of devices and software is the responsibility of students’ direct teaching team.

Students who participate in Compass will continue to receive direct services on the ECC from their existing team, which may include O&M instructors, teachers of the visually impaired, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and so on. Compass coaches are not meant to replace these professionals or the instruction they provide. Rather, Compass brings the team together in a student-centered, collaborative approach to build on students’ knowledge and create a plan to move a student forward to greater awareness of the demands of college-level work, and to move a student forward to greater independence and ability to manage the significantly increased expectations inherent in college.

Compass is a nine-month program, during which we both leverage the power of one-on-one coaching (meeting your student where they are, and helping them to grow in their self awareness) and in the Action Plan, which is implemented with the student’s Learning Triad, all over time.

Time allows a few things. It allows changes in understanding in not only the student, but the family as well. It empowers the TVI to learn new skills and to have time and support to develop new structures in a student’s school day. In short, it’s adding time “on” in intentional, constructive ways that lead to growth.

To beat the odds! Research suggests that the majority of students with visual impairments who start college never finish. Through a team approach and evidence-based practices used in the coaching model, students will heighten their self-awareness, identify goals, and design an action plan that will begin to be implemented during the program and continue through the rest of their high school career with ongoing support from Compass staff.

With the College Readiness Checklist as the driving force behind action planning, students and their teams will share in their understanding of and efforts to support and plan for student growth as they build the skills and confidence required for college and work.

Coaching is a student-centered approach that promotes self-discovery, reflective thinking, and strengths-based goal-setting through intentional and guided support. By participating in Compass, students learn to self-direct their learning and reflect on their growth in order to set and achieve realistic, attainable goals. Compass coaches work with the whole team to integrate these practices into all aspects of the students support network in order to optimize outcomes.

Compass coaches work with all members of the Learning Triad to support the student toward reaching their college readiness goals. In addition to the group workshops, up to one-hour weekly coaching sessions will be available to students, families, and a member of the educational team such as the TVI.

Each session is tailored to address the needs of the individual, with students at the center of every conversation. Data from the College Readiness Checklist, a tool designed to determine students’ skill in eight ECC-aligned domains, will be a guide for many of the coaching sessions. Each individual brings different backgrounds, knowledge, assumptions, and experiences to the sessions; our Compass coaches are ready to meet every person where they are to support the best possible outcomes.

Compass, a College Success @ Perkins program, is a nine-month virtual offering designed to build college readiness skills for high school students who are blind and visually impaired. Through weekly coaching sessions and regular workshops with key players in students’ learning networks—the student, family, and an educational link such as a TVI—students create and implement a plan that builds on their skills while addressing challenges and gaps in skills.

Compass leverages the power of individualized attention in the form of coaching sessions with the student, the parent or guardian, and the educational link. In the coaching sessions, the team assesses the student's strengths and growth areas, then builds awareness of, and a plan to build the skills and strategies that will better prepare them for the rigors of higher education. Specifically created for students in high school, Compass focuses on planning to improve technology, academic skills, executive functioning, career exploration and planning, social-emotional skills, O&M and independent living.

Compass is for high school students who are blind or visually impaired who aspire to go to college, are motivated to succeed, open to feedback, and willing to put forth the effort necessary to reach and complete college. Students in 9th through 11th grades are strongly encouraged to apply (the earlier the better to increase college readiness), but 12th grade students and fifth-year seniors may also be considered.

The cost of the program is $25,000 for the 2021-2022 school year. For more information including guidance on funding, please email [email protected] or call 617-972-7573.

Give us a call! Our admissions team is ready to answer any questions you might have and help you determine if Compass is right for your student. Contact Compass today!

Donating

Charitable gifts should be directed to:

Development Department
Perkins School for the Blind
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Perkins’ federal tax ID number is 04-2103616.

Perkins' full legal name is PERKINS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND.

Planned giving staff is available to answer any questions attorneys or other financial advisors might have about making a gift to Perkins School for the Blind. While we can’t offer legal or financial advice, we can share giving options, draft language and provide other resources you’ll need to help your clients achieve their philanthropic, financial and estate-planning goals. Simply contact us or call 617-972-7328 with any questions.

Please note, donors are encouraged to consult an attorney, estate planner, financial advisor, accountant or other professional before making any major charitable donations. We would be happy to answer any questions that you have or prepare a no-obligation life-income gift proposal for you to share with your family and financial advisor.

Perkins School for the Blind is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.

Any gift you make to Perkins is valued and will make a long-term difference in the lives of those we serve.

Step 1: Get a copy of your current will.

Step 2: Mark the areas you would like to change.

Step 3: Meet with your estate planning attorney to draft and prepare your new document.

Step 4: Consider discussing changes with us if they affect your bequest to Perkins.

Just a few sentences in your will are all that is needed. You can give all of your estate, a percentage of your estate, a specific sum of dollars or the remainder of your estate (after other bequests) to Perkins. Your gift can be used for general support for Perkins or to fund specific programs or initiatives.

The following language may be used for an outright gift by will:

Specific dollar amount or percentage:

"I give the (sum of dollars or percentage of estate) to the Trustees of Perkins School for the Blind, located in Watertown, Massachusetts, to be used for the school's general purposes."

Part or all of residue:

"I devise and bequeath to the Trustees of Perkins School for the Blind, located in Watertown, Massachusetts, (all or specify a portion) of the rest, residue and remainder of my estate to be used (for the school's general purposes or insert a specific program or purpose.)."

You can build a better future for the people we serve by remembering Perkins in a will, trust, retirement plan or life insurance policy. Helping Perkins and securing your financial future or the financial security of your loved ones starts with a solid estate plan. And a solid estate plan begins with your will. 

The terms legacy or planned giving refer to charitable gifts that require more financial planning and thoughtfulness than a typical one-time contribution. This type of giving is popular because it can provide you with valuable tax benefits while giving Perkins the resources we need to improve the lives of children and young adults who are blind.

Through planned giving:

  • You can make a gift that costs nothing during your lifetime.
  • You can receive larger tax savings by giving stock.
  • You can donate your house, continue to live there and receive a tax break, all at the same time.

You can donate online or call 617-972-7328.

Please call 617-972-7240, 1-800-852-3133 or email [email protected]

The Perkins federal tax ID number is 04-2103616.

Perkins School for the Blind is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, and your donation is tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. law.

We are proud to report that 80% of your donation directly serves individuals with visual impairments and is crucial to the success of our students.

General

As the parent of a son or daughter with special needs, you have the right to an independent educational evaluation for your child, as allowed under the federal special education law Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). You can read detailed descriptions of your parental rights in "A Parent's Guide to Special Education," a free online publication produced by the Massachusetts Department of Education and The Federation for Children with Special Needs. If you reside outside of Massachusetts, the Center for Parent Information and Resources has a helpful guide. In addition, our staff will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your parental safeguards.

You will have access to pre-recorded sessions on a wide range of topics that you can watch at any time. When you register for the conference, you will be invited to attend special “live” virtual sessions:

  • A keynote from parent and Perkins TVI Burju Sari
  • Live Q&A sessions with experts who can respond to questions you and other parents are asking
  • The opportunity to connect online with other families and professionals

Yes, we are now able to offer professional credits for this virtual conference via Perkins eLearning. Please visit our website to find out more about professional development credits.

Early work experiences are a key predictor of future employment success. The sooner young adults with blindness or visual impairment gain workplace experience, the better prepared they will be to compete for jobs with sighted peers. Many young adults work entry-level jobs in the summer or on weekends. If your teenager delays that experience, he or she is missing out on critical experience employers will look for after high school or college.

You can email [email protected] or call 617-972-7328.

The Perkins federal tax ID number is 04-2103616.

Independent evaluations

Yes! We offer independent post-evaluation consulting to provide additional input and strategies for your child. This service is designed to help you clearly understand your child's strengths and challenges, customize strategies and techniques for further success and analyze areas of concern to develop additional intervention and progress monitoring.

No. All children and young adults, ages 3-21, who are blind, visually impaired or deafblind, including those with additional disabilities, are eligible for evaluation services at Perkins.

Low Vision Clinic

Usually, we allow 1-½ hours for a full examination, but it doesn't always take this long. It is important to have plenty of time for people to become comfortable in a new place, and for families and teachers to ask plenty of questions.

Yes, as long as you have a doctor's recommendation or prescription. We don't have a store, but we can help you order a specific device and have it sent directly to your home.

No. Our specialty is working with individuals of all ages with vision loss and multiple impairments. However, we can provide exams for people of all ages with or without a visual impairment.

We can bill most medical insurance plans. However, we do not provide a “routine” eye exam. Therefore, you must request a referral from your child’s pediatrician or primary care physician (PCP). Check with your insurance company—if our service is not covered by your medical insurance, we will require payment at the time of your appointment. The cost of an annual exam is $185, and $85 for each follow-up appointment within the year.

Sometimes, school systems will pay for the exam. If this is the case, we must have a letter from the school with the payment amount and billing information.

Download the Preparing for your appointment checklist and authorization form.

If this is your first time to our clinic, we will need copies of all previous eye exams, as well as any other educational/medical evaluations that have been conducted, such as:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Learning media assessment
  • Community-based functional vision assessment
  • Neuropsych exam

Because we use a collaborative approach to the exam and are a teaching clinic for the New England Eye Institute, you will meet several professionals during your visit. We encourage any or all of the patient’s education or rehabilitation team to attend an examination. This may include parents, classroom teachers, teachers of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility specialists or other special service providers. When you arrive, you will be greeted by our administrative assistant or clinic coordinator.

Our team of specialists can provide a wide range of eye care services, including:

  • “Modified” Comprehensive Eye Exam
  • Clinical Functional Vision Examination
  • Visual Field Examination

Perkins Archives

We do! You may use up to five images from our Archives collection for free, but we require someone over the age of 18 to complete a form requesting the specific images you would like to use. (This can be a parent, guardian, teacher or librarian who knows how the images will be used).

Email our Archives staff at [email protected], and we'll send you the form and explain the process. Once the completed form is returned to us, we will email you the images. 

Please contact us if you would like to use more than five images. For uses other than school projects, our image use and licensing information explains the options and fees.  

It’s important to us to respect the privacy of former students and staff at Perkins. The information we can share depends on many different factors. The amount of information we have about former students and staff also varies a great deal.

The best way to start is to submit your question to the Hayes Research Library and Archives Questions form with the information you have and the information you are looking for. Helpful details to include are dates, the name the person used while here and any known interests. We’ll get back to you with how we can help in your specific case.

Yes. Many of our items are available digitally, including the most commonly used archives collections. We are glad to direct you to specific resources and to help with questions about Perkins or blindness and deafblindness. Complete our Virtual Research Visit Request form and we will get in touch to discuss what options are available for your specific question and research needs. On-demand scanning and photographing options are also available. More information about this can be found on our Digitization and Scanning Requests page

Visit our Donations to Archives page for more information about what we collect and contact us at [email protected] to discuss.

  • Perkins School for the Blind requires permission for all image use, including personal, classroom, or publications. More information is available on our Image Licensing Page.
  • K-12 students wishing to use images for school projects, should email Archives staff at [email protected].

  • More information and an online form are available on our Image Licensing Page.
  • K-12 students working on school projects should email Archives staff at [email protected].
  • If you would like virtual access to content not digitized in the archives, on-demand digitization and photographing options are available. More information about this and other remote services can be found on the Research at the Hayes Research Library Page.

Information about research visits can be found on the Research at the Hayes Research Library page.

Perkinsarchives.org is a great place to get an idea of our resources and the scope of our collections. We have collection guides, called “finding aids,” articles and exhibits about Perkins history and related topics, and digitized resources that include materials in print and embossed type, photographed artifacts, and video and audio resources. We also suggest contacting the Hayes Research Library and Perkins Archives using the online form so that staff can assist you.

  • While we strive to ensure our content is accessible to all users, there is some content that is accessible in title only, relies on technology such as optical character recognition (which can be error-prone), or is not available in a digital format at all. The Archives will provide non-restricted materials in an accessible format to users unable to access the available materials. To request accessible content or other assistance accessing Archives resources, please contact [email protected] or call 617-972-6575.
  • The Archives is currently revising image descriptions that are part of our digital collections available on Flickr in an effort to make them more accessible. If you would like more description or have questions about any of our digital images please contact [email protected]

The Archives does not host visits, but the Perkins Museum has some of our best artifacts on display, along with information about the history of the school and of the education of students who are blind and deafblind. Many of the artifacts on display can be explored – as they are meant to be – through touch. Currently, visits to the Perkins Museum are closed due to COVID-19.

Perkins Brailler

It is important to load the paper properly into the brailler. Otherwise, it will appear to be jammed and will not work.

  • Move the carriage lever to the left-hand side of the brailler (starting position)
  • Depress the line spacer until it will not depress anymore
  • Pull the pressure roller levers towards you to open the drum
  • Insert the paper from the back into the rounded roller drum and ensure that the paper is aligned to the left-hand side of the brailler
  • Push the pressure roller levers away from you to secure the paper
  • Roll the paper all the way in till the feed knobs stop turning
  • Hit the line spacer once
  • Begin to braille

There are currently four variations of the Perkins Brailler available:

The SMART Brailler is available for purchase through the American Printing House (APH) using Federal Quota funds, administered by APH and its Ex Officio Trustees throughout the country.

Weighing only 8.5 lb. (3.9 kg.), the SMART Brailler lightens the load, making it easier to transport between classrooms and home.

The main difference is that the SMART Brailler includes the mechanical braille capabilities of the classic Perkins Brailler along with several technological advancements including text-to-speech audio, a display screen and USB options for saving work. Use our Brailler comparison guide to learn more.

The SMART Brailler works mechanically much like the classic Perkins Brailler. The electronic components of the SMART Brailler present a variety of options for auditory and visual components, allowing teachers and parents to customize settings for their individual child's needs. Discover how the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind uses the SMART Brailler. Spoiler alert: the students love it!

Perkins Library

Library service is free of charge to registered patrons.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Perkins School for the Blind provide funding. Books and equipment are provided to us through our partnership with the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled of the Library of Congress.

Funds are also appropriated by Congress for “Free Matter for the Blind” mailing classification.

To apply for free Perkins Library services, please review the following service eligibility guidelines and download the appropriate forms below. All applications must be signed and certified by a professional such as a doctor, ophthalmologist, registered nurse, librarian or social worker. These service forms can also be requested by contacting Perkins Library at 617-972-7240, 1-800-852-3133 or [email protected]

Library services are available free to Massachusetts residents who meet one or more of the following eligibility guidelines:

  • Are legally blind with vision of 20/200 or worse, or have a visual field no greater than 20 degrees
  • Have corrected vision, but cannot see well enough to read with comfort for extended periods of time
  • Have a physical condition that makes holding a book difficult
  • Have been certified by a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy as having a reading disability that has a physical basis that prevents one from reading standard print

Institutions including schools, libraries, nursing homes, hospitals and organizations that provide services to people with visual or physical disabilities are also eligible to receive Perkins Library services.

In addition to over 75,000 digital and cassette titles, 20,000 braille titles, 100 audio and braille magazines and 12,000 large print books, the Perkins Library offers audio-described Blu-Ray and DVD movies, downloadable books and magazines, a braille awareness kit, museum passes and instructional music materials.

We have a reference librarian available to answer your research questions. Materials are also available in over 60 languages.

Through Newsline™, you can listen to newspapers, magazines, TV listings and job announcements over the telephone, online, downloaded to an approved portable device or via email.

Contact us to access these materials and services.

We urge patrons to borrow audio and braille books for no longer than six to eight weeks so we can promptly fill other requests for the same titles. Large print books are loaned for four weeks, and DVDs circulate for two weeks.

Please return both books and magazines with shared subscriptions as soon as possible because many others are waiting to read the books and current magazine issues.

You can access the library’s holdings from the Online Public Access Catalog at www.perkins.org/library.

A number of search options are available, including title, author, keyword, medium and language. You can add items to your request list, and up to three selections will be shipped out immediately.

To order books, you must enter your user ID and your password. Your user ID is composed of six letters and two numbers and is printed on your mailing card. Example: Harry Potter – POTTEH01. Your password is your birth year. Institutions should contact the library for their passwords.

Contact the library with any questions about ordering books online.

When we approved your application, we sent introductory material and the books and equipment that you requested. Equipment and materials may arrive in separate shipments. Contact us if you have questions about what you received or to order more books.

Unfortunately at this time our library is closed to the public until further notice. Contact the Perkins Library to update your mailing address or to request titles be mailed to you directly.

The Braille & Talking Book Library is located on the campus of the Perkins School for the Blind. The library’s GPS and physical address is 141 Riverside Street, Watertown, MA 02472. Contact us for directions via public transportation.

Please call 617-972-7240, 1-800-852-3133 or email [email protected]

Pre-Employment Program (PEP)

The cost of the PEP is $4,000. This program qualifies for Pre-ETS funding in Massachusetts. Please contact the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind or your state’s vocational rehabilitation office for more information.

Living on campus is both convenient and a learning experience for PEP students. After classes are finished for the day, they’ll be able to work on their independent living skills and socialize with peers in one of Perkins’ fully accessible residential cottages. The residential component also allows students who don't live nearby to attend the program. 

Our students exit the program with an action plan. That plan includes follow-up activities spelled out, such as leads to pursue and network connections to make. They’ll have a career portfolio that includes a personal data sheet, sample resume and cover letter, references and letters of recommendation in hard copy and on a USB drive. They’ll have practiced when and how to disclose their visual impairment to a potential employer, and they’ll have networked with real-world hiring managers and human resources professionals. And finally, they’ll have a network of peers and mentors they can call upon as they navigate the working world independently. The PEP will give your young adult the skills to compete and the confidence to pursue success.

Absolutely. Accessible technology is a critical tool in almost any work environment for people with blindness or low vision, and enables those individuals to perform almost any job a sighted person can do. We’ll discuss which tools – screen readers, braille notetakers, magnifiers, etc. – work best, and also cover accessible technology that’s built into mainstream devices like smartphones and tablets. We’ll also coach your young adult on advocating for him or herself in the workplace and having the confidence to ask for those tools to get the job done. 

The PEP is a week-long program held during most Massachusetts schools’ February break. The 2020 program begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 16 and end at 12 p.m. on Saturday, February 22.

Young adults with blindness and visual impairment need more preparation and hands-on experience than their sighted peers, because they miss out on the incidental learning that occurs naturally for people with sight. The PEP provides insight on resume writingsocial etiquette in the workplace, transportation strategies and much more – critical skills and knowledge that will benefit any young adult, sighted or blind. Just as importantly, the PEP also teaches young adults how to keep that job once they land it.

Early work experiences are a key predictor of future employment success. The sooner young adults with blindness or visual impairment gain workplace experience, the better prepared they will be to compete for jobs with sighted peers. Many young adults work entry-level jobs in the summer or on weekends. If your teenager delays that experience, he or she is missing out on critical experience employers will look for after high school or college.

Professional development

Our online classes are available for continuing education, professional development and certification credits, through a collaborative learning experience with a cohort of professionals with similar needs and interests. Classes are co-synchronous, meaning that they can be done at any time that is convenient for the learner; they do not meet live, but the class all works at the same pace.

Our online classes provide active participation, moderated discussion, graded weekly assignments and quizzes and most importantly, practical application of the material into your daily practice. Most of our classes are equal to graduate-level online study. Learn more about our online courses today!

If you are looking for a listen-and-learn experience, we have short webinars, webcast videos, and self-paced tutorial offerings available as well.

We offer a variety of different types of credit, depending on the activity. Types of credit include:

  • Graduate credits (purchased separately on instructor-led courses); Perkins partners with Fitchburg State University (Fitchburg, MA)
  • OSPI CE credits (on instructor-led courses)
  • Continuing Education Credit (CEUs)
  • Professional Development Points (PDPs)
  • ACVREP credits
  • Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) credits
  • AOTA credits (where designated)
  • ASHA credits (where designated)

We'd love to have you! Subscribe to our professional development newsletter to receive the latest offerings of online classes, self-paced tutorials, blended workshops, webinars, training sessions and more on our website.

Yes, we are now able to offer professional credits for this virtual conference via Perkins eLearning. Please visit our website to find out more about professional development credits.

Samuel P. Hayes Research Library

The members of the Deaf-Blind Information Consortium (other than the Hayes Research Library) are:  

Learn more about the project, including longer profiles of each member. 

We do! You may use up to five images from our Archives collection for free, but we require someone over the age of 18 to complete a form requesting the specific images you would like to use. (This can be a parent, guardian, teacher or librarian who knows how the images will be used).

Email our Archives staff at [email protected], and we'll send you the form and explain the process. Once the completed form is returned to us, we will email you the images. 

Please contact us if you would like to use more than five images. For uses other than school projects, our image use and licensing information explains the options and fees.  

We’re glad to help with school projects. Please email us at [email protected] with information about your project including your topic, what kind of information or resources you’re looking for and any deadlines involved. Please email us at least two weeks before your deadline. 

We are glad to do email interviews, or to arrange a phone or video call if we can find a mutually good time (during regular Research Library hours). Please get in touch through email to discuss possible interview options.

Explore the Perkins History Museum, which has information about Perkins, many people associated with it and the history of blindness education. These pages link to additional resources from our archives. 

We also have handouts and other materials about a variety of topics, including Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan, Laura Bridgman, braille and the history of Perkins.

We’re two different parts of Perkins, and we are in two entirely different buildings. The Perkins Library (previously called the Braille and Talking Book Library) provides a number of services to those who are blind, visually impaired people or those who have reading disabilities in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Samuel Perkins Hayes was a Perkins psychologist who pioneered psychological testing of students who are blind. He also led research projects at Perkins for many years. The Research Library is named in his honor. 

It’s important to us to respect the privacy of former students and staff at Perkins. The information we can share depends on many different factors. The amount of information we have about former students and staff also varies a great deal.

The best way to start is to email us with the information you have and the information you are looking for. Helpful details to include are dates, the name they used while here and any known interests. We’ll get back to you with how we can help in your specific case.

Our catalog has a complete record of all the items in our collection, including individually indexed articles from selected relevant journals. You are welcome to search our online catalog yourself, but if you have trouble finding what you’re looking for, we’re glad to help.

Due to our unique collection, we use specialized subject headings. Additional help on searching the catalog is available.

Items in our collection only circulate to Perkins staff. We are able to scan material for other users in keeping with our Distance Services policies, or share access through a visit to the Research Library (by appointment only.)

Our books and materials only circulate to Perkins staff. 

We are glad to provide additional information about items in our collection, such as the table of contents or checking to see if a book covers a topic. We can also scan a limited amount of material in keeping with our scanning policies.

Visits to the Research Library are by appointment only. Our page on visiting the Research Library has all the details.

We prefer email—it’s the best way to get all the details of your question in one place. You can email us at [email protected]. Please let us know your questions, what kind of information you’re looking for and if you have a specific deadline. 

If you need to send a snail mail letter, please make sure you address it to the Research Library. There are several libraries on campus, and letters that don’t include “Research Library” may not get to us. 

Our mailing address is:

Research Library
Perkins School for the Blind
175 North Beacon St.
Watertown, MA
02472

The Research Library has access to electronic databases with relevant journals for Perkins staff. For other questions, please contact us and we’ll let you know about the best access options for your questions. 

Due to technical limitations relating to e-books in libraries, we do not currently collect electronic versions of texts, but we can help you figure out what other libraries (including the Perkins Library) may have access. 

Most Research Library materials are in print. Please let us know if you need an accessible format and we are glad to see what options are available for a particular title. 

The Research Library collects books, journals, articles, dissertations, conference reports, pamphlets, clippings and news items, video recordings and other multimedia materials, along with internet-based information. All of these are cataloged in the Research Library’s online catalog.

Most materials are in print, but we are glad to see what accessible options exist for a particular item - please get in touch and let us know what you're interested in.

We collect comprehensively in the following areas:

  • Education for children who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired (including with multiple disabilities) designed for teachers, parents, schools and communities
  • Material designed for teachers of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility instructors and other professionals working in the fields we cover
  • Perkins history and key figures in our fields, such as histories, biographies and profiles
  • Biographies, memoirs or other published writings by Perkins alumni or staff

We collect representative material in some areas:

  • Fictional works, biographies and memoirs, or juvenile materials with significant focus on people who are blind, deafblind or visually impaired
  • Information about or resources for assistive technology or assistive devices
  • News items dealing with contemporary views of blindness, deafblindness, visual impairment, multiple disabilities or disabilities in general
  • General educational materials (such as curriculum design, classroom management, behavior) of use to teachers at Perkins
  • Local and regional history relevant to Perkins or individuals associated with Perkins

We do not normally collect medical resources, kits or other physical educational tools, materials used directly by students (textbooks, workbooks, classroom aids) or testing forms and kits for providing different assessments.

Please see our Hayes Research Library Policies document for the complete list.

We are glad to help anyone interested in the fields of blindness or deafblindness. We welcome everyone—students, researchers, teachers, practitioners, people learning to be teachers or practitioners, members of the community and people associated with other organizations for the blind or deafblind. 

We regularly answer questions about resources for children (and adults) who are blind or deafblind, materials for teachers and professionals in the field, as well as historical questions about Perkins and education for children who are blind or deafblind.

We can answer most questions by email or over the phone. Get in touch with the Research Library through our contact form.

If you have a question, it helps us to know:

  • Where you are located (state, province, or country)
  • The type of resources you would find most helpful (peer reviewed research, personal experiences, historical information, etc.)
  • If asking for materials about an educational topic, the age range you are focusing on.
  • Any accessibility needs or other notes that may affect what materials will be useful to you.

We are glad to help. Please visit the Research Library Resources page to learn more.

Visits to our collections are by appointment only. We’re able to help with many questions through email and our digitized materials. Please feel free to email us your questions, and we can arrange the best options from there.

Learn about research visits.

We are glad to help. Please contact the Research Library to get started. It helps us to know:

  • Where you are located (state, province, or country)
  • The type of resources you would find most helpful (peer reviewed research, personal experiences, historical information, etc.)
  • If asking for materials about an educational topic, the age range you are focusing on.
  • Any accessibility needs or other notes that may affect what materials will be useful to you.

We are glad to help. Please visit the Hayes Research Library's School Project Resources page to get started.

School

As the parent of a son or daughter with special needs, you have the right to an independent educational evaluation for your child, as allowed under the federal special education law Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). You can read detailed descriptions of your parental rights in "A Parent's Guide to Special Education," a free online publication produced by the Massachusetts Department of Education and The Federation for Children with Special Needs. If you reside outside of Massachusetts, the Center for Parent Information and Resources has a helpful guide. In addition, our staff will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your parental safeguards.

Any and all means of communication are developed and encouraged throughout our Deafblind Program. Our holistic approach helps us meet each student at his or her own level of communicative ability, and may include any or all of the following:

Touch Cues, Gestures, Objects, Tactile Symbols, Pictures/Visual Systems, Print/Braille, Assistive Technology (AT) and/or Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) Low and High Tech, Speech/Voice, Sign Language, and/or Tactile Sign Language

The first step in gaining access to Perkins’ Infant-Toddler services is to enroll your child in Early Intervention through Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health. Complete this referral form and email it to Emily Lowenstein ([email protected]) or Katie Tefft ([email protected])They will be in touch once they receive the new referral. We continue to accept new referrals into our Infant-Toddler program.

You'll find many helpful materials and stories in the Total Communication section of our Resource Center [link to Total Communication category page]. To learn more, contact us at [email protected] or
617-972-7500.

Yes. All children and young adults, ages 3-21, who are blind, visually impaired or deafblind, including those with additional disabilities, are eligible for evaluation services at Perkins.

Any and all means of communication are developed and encouraged throughout our Deafblind Program. Our holistic approach helps us meet each student at his or her own level of communicative ability, and may include any or all of the following:

Touch Cues, Gestures, Objects, Tactile Symbols, Pictures/Visual Systems, Print/Braille, Assistive Technology (AT) and/or Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) Low and High Tech, Speech/Voice, Sign Language, and/or Tactile Sign Language

Perkins offers swimming, student interest groups, friendship groups, radio club and several sports teams, including goalball, cheerleading, track and field, and more!

Perkins uses a combination of curricula to create a customized learning approach for every child based on unique needs and strengths. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Learning Standards and Curriculum Frameworks guide all curricula choices. We incorporate the Expanded Core Curriculum throughout the day along with adapted core curriculum lessons and the Unique Learning System™.

You will have access to pre-recorded sessions on a wide range of topics that you can watch at any time. When you register for the conference, you will be invited to attend special “live” virtual sessions:

  • A keynote from parent and Perkins TVI Burju Sari
  • Live Q&A sessions with experts who can respond to questions you and other parents are asking
  • The opportunity to connect online with other families and professionals

Yes, we are now able to offer professional credits for this virtual conference via Perkins eLearning. Please visit our website to find out more about professional development credits.

Yes! We offer independent post-evaluation consulting to provide additional input and strategies for your child. This service is designed to help you clearly understand your child's strengths and challenges, customize strategies and techniques for further success and analyze areas of concern to develop additional intervention and progress monitoring.

No. All children and young adults, ages 3-21, who are blind, visually impaired or deafblind, including those with additional disabilities, are eligible for evaluation services at Perkins.

Perkins' assessment areas include:

  • Educational skills
  • Psychological assessments
  • Speech and language, communication
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Functional low vision
  • Expanded Core Curriculum areas and more

The evaluation takes one to two days to complete on the Perkins campus.

We use a team approach, which includes teachers and related service professionals who work directly with the students enrolled in one of our on-campus programs. Our evaluation teams have unparalleled knowledge of and experience with students who are blind, visually impaired or deafblind, including those with additional disabilities.

After the evaluation is completed, Perkins will provide a comprehensive evaluation report with recommendations for the student's educational program and community environment.

Special events

Absolutely! You can find the virtual registration form here: https://runsignup.com/Race/Register/?raceId=111362&eventId=502429

Registration is $10 and can be found at runsignup.com/walkforperkins.

Our inaugural walk begins at our historic, picturesque Perkins campus, located at:
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Still have questions?

Our team of experts is ready to help find the answers.