Including every child

Showing teachers, families and communities how children who are blind or visually impaired can learn and engage in life

Two woman communicate with two boys using tactile sign language.
March 6, 2020

On my office wall, there’s a quote by Maya Angelou: “Each child belongs to all of us and they will bring us a tomorrow in direct relation to the responsibility we have shown to them.” Here, at Perkins, we believe every child can learn. Yet around the world, more than 6 million children with multiple disabilities and visual impairments are excluded from school, family and community life because of the mistaken belief that they can’t learn. Perkins has the expertise to show how these children can be included. That means we have an opportunity — and a responsibility — to make a difference. 

In every region of the world, Perkins partners with parents, schools and governments to meet children where they are. At home, in community programs, in the health system, in public or private schools, Perkins makes sure these children are seen and we help create or connect the services to keep them on a path to learning.

One of the ways we do this is through our Perkins International Educational Leadership Program (ELP).

Every day, somewhere in the world, a child learns with the help of a Perkins-trained teacher. That’s because, for 100 years, Perkins’ impact has extended beyond Watertown, reaching children in 92 countries by welcoming educators from around the world to live and learn on our campus in this intensive nine-month residential training program.

ELP graduates are a close-knit community of educators, parents and policymakers. These leaders take what they learn at Perkins home to their countries, where they do the hands-on work of educating children with visual impairment and additional disabilities. And their impact is even greater: ELP graduates go on to reach even more children by sharing their Perkins training with fellow educators, who then train more educators, creating a ripple effect to help more and more children unlock their full potential.

And that’s just the first 100 years! Children with visual impairment and additional disabilities depend on grown-ups to help them learn, so we can never stop developing leaders, mentoring educators, training teachers and engaging families. I’m excited about the next 100 years and how many more children we can reach.

Join us. With your help, we can create a tomorrow where each child, wherever they live, whatever their ability, can learn.

Katherine Holland is the Executive Director of Perkins International.