About Perkins International

Visually impaired child skipping down a trail with friend who's holding a brailler.



There are 19 million children around the world who are blind or have low vision. Many of these children live without access to quality education or life-changing assistive technology. Their families and communities often lack the necessary knowledge and resources to advocate on their behalf. And their governments need help to enact effective disability policies.

Perkins International:

  • Strengthens disability policies
  • Increases access to information and assistive technology
  • Expands educational opportunities and transitional outcomes
  • Builds sustainable local capacity

We build capacity at local, regional and national levels in more than 60 countries, developing independent, sustainable education services and empowering children with disabilities and their families.

Strengthening Disability Policies

Many children who are blind or have low vision live in countries that lack policies supporting their access to education and job training. Perkins International advocates for policies at the national and international level that support the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

We also build awareness among educators, administrators, government officials, communities and families on the importance of special education and inclusion for children with disabilities.

Increasing Access to Information and Assistive Technology

Without access to assistive technology such as braillers or the training to use them, people who are blind often do not achieve literacy and are not empowered to help themselves or their families. Perkins International increases access to assistive technology equipment and training for individuals, schools, governments and other organizations.

We distribute Perkins Braillers® and other blindness and low vision products worldwide, and establish brailler repair centers to ensure the devices are repaired locally and affordably.

Perkins also provides training so others can learn to teach braille to students who are blind, educates governments on the importance of investing in programs that promote literacy through braille, and offers opportunities online with eLearning through workshops, webinars, webcasts and other resources.

Expanding Educational Opportunities and Transitional Outcomes

Many children worldwide who are blind or have low vision do not attend school. Those who do lack the resources necessary to unlock their potential. Perkins International helps governments develop appropriate educational programs for all students from infancy through adulthood. These programs include models for early intervention, primary and secondary education, and transition to an independent adult life.

We also provide advanced training through the Educational Leadership Program (ELP). Every year, a select group of educators from the developing world travel to Perkins’ historic campus in Watertown to participate in this immersive, master’s-level program for professional development. ELP graduates return to their home countries as newly-trained leaders in their field.

Other innovative resources include the website TransitionPlanningAsia.org for parents, teachers and rehabilitation workers. This site serves as an information exchange and discussion forum for stakeholders in Asia who are working to ensure that students who are blind or deafblind, including those with additional disabilities, lead the most independent and meaningful lives possible.

Building Sustainable Local Capacity

In many developing countries, a lack of local program capacity and the inability to maintain sustainable services threatens to derail progress for children who are blind or deafblind, including those who have additional disabilities. Perkins International builds the professional capacity of educators through training and consultation to deliver high-quality instruction to children.

We develop and refine special education curricula at universities around the world so schools can better prepare educators to instruct students. By fostering the development of parent organizations, we help parents advocate for special education funding and stronger disability policies.

Perkins also supports the development of individual leaders and organizations that represent people with disabilities, and promotes networking opportunities at the national and regional level for parents, professionals and organizations of persons with disabilities.