New Perkins documentary available online

Canadian documentary puts the spotlight on Perkins School for the Blind, from Helen Keller to the modern day

Aerial view of Perkins School for the Blind's campus

A new documentary delves into the history of Perkins and its commitment to educate students who are blind.

June 26, 2015

A new documentary that explores Perkins School for the Blind’s rich history, inspirational students and life-changing innovations is now available online.

The one-hour documentary, entitled “Holding the Key,” was produced by AMI-tv, a Canadian television network that serves people with disabilities. It originally aired June 24 in Canada.

“We don’t have a school for the blind of the scope and history of Perkins in Canada,” said Connor Dalton, the film’s producer. “We wanted to bring (our audience) the stories of the students past and present and tell this in an accessible way.”

Holding the Key” explores all facets of the Perkins School for the Blind experience, from classrooms where students study academics and life skills, to accessible reading materials offered by the Perkins Library, to state-of-the-art assistive technology from Perkins Solutions, to the Transition to Life Cooperative that empowers young adults to find jobs.

The film also delves into the history of Perkins and its 186-year commitment to educate students who are blind, including those with additional disabilities. Dalton said that while many people know of Helen Keller, they may not be familiar with Laura Bridgman, the first student at Perkins who was deafblind. Charles Dickens wrote about Bridgman in his popular 1842 book “American Notes,” which Keller’s mother read. It inspired her to contact Perkins to seek help for her daughter.

Holding the Key” has been in the works for two years. An AMI-tv film crew spent a week in March on the Perkins campus, interviewing a wide range of Perkins staff and students.

Making the documentary was an illuminating experience, Dalton said.

“I don’t think we truly grasped the scope of Perkins’ work before arriving there,” he said. “We truly only captured a fraction of what Perkins offers.”

AMI-tv is a division of Accessible Media Inc. of Canada, a not-for-profit multimedia organization serving more than five million Canadians with visual, hearing or mobility impairments. It offers popular television shows with closed captions and audio description, as well as original programming.