History of Perkins

From then to now, discover the history of Perkins School for the Blind dating back almost 200 years.

Perkins tower in the background with pear trees and horse drawn carriages in the foreground.
The Howe Building seen across Charles River Road with a horse-drawn carriage at the lower right and pear trees at the left. Part of a postcard book from the Perkins Institution, printed circa 1923.

Our history

Founded in 1829, Perkins was the first school for the blind in the United States. Helen Keller is just one of several well-known Perkins alumni members.

A sky-view photo of Howe Tower.

Our values

We stand for disability inclusion, we believe every child can learn, and we believe real change means global change.

Core values and areas of focus

At Perkins, we are unlocking opportunity for children with multiple disabilities and visual impairments, and igniting change in over 90 countries around the globe.

Lavi engaged in colouring activity with her teacher Arti

International programs

From Perkins India to the newly-opened Adaptive Design Center in Mexico, Perkins is committed to aiding children with complex, multiple disabilities around the world. Learn more about our international reach.

Henry inside a wooden truck at the playground leans and smiles toward the camera

The CVI Center of Excellence

Perkins is urgently confronting the leading cause of blindness in children, Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI). Read more about the CVI Center and visit CVINow.org, the leading website for families of children with CVI.

A mom holding her young daughter in her lap with a smile on her face.

Infant-Toddler program

We provide early intervention services, specialty services, education, and support to families in need as the first point of contact for any child in Massachusetts diagnosed with a visual impairment or deafblindness.

Perkins Library mails out audio books, braille and large print reading materials, audio-described movies and more to 27,000 people across Massachusetts. Patrons can also visit the Library in person to browse or chat with a reader advisor.
Perkins Library mails out audio books, braille and large print reading materials, audio-described movies and more to 27,000 people across Massachusetts. Patrons can also visit the Library in person to browse or chat with a reader advisor.

Perkins Library

Perkins Library circulates more than half a million accessible books, newspapers and publications in braille, large print and digital audio formats annually to New England and beyond.

A male student sitting at a table with his laptop in front of him and laughing.

Transition Center

The leap from high school graduation to young adulthood is a big one. Explore our tailored programs for students and expert resources for families and caregivers. Let’s navigate the journey from high school to adulthood together.

A student looks closely at a small toy

Assistive Device Center

Including slant boards, chairs and more, our Assistive Device Center and its volunteers build tools and devices for our students to help them grow and thrive. This is just one of several aspects that makes Perkins unique.

Our executive team

The people behind Perkins and its mission.

Corporators & Trustees

Find further resources on Perkins’ Trustees, Corporation, and Committee.

two hands shaking in a handshake

Corporation Members

icons of people connected to each other

Board of Trustees

#FridayForward: News from changemakers and innovators around the globe

Every month, #FridayForward looks at the unique challenges in the world of disabilities and visual impairment, and the people who are working to solve them. Subscribe today to learn how you can help build a more inclusive, accessible world.

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