The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Education of the Physically Handicapped

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Education of the Physically Handicapped
Edition of 1920. See also Education of the deaf and Blindness and education on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

EDUCATION OF THE PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED. For a long period of years, a child who was born deaf or blind or who did not possess the full normal use of any of the organs or members of the human body has been called a defective. It has also been the practice to classify children who have lost the use of any of the organs or members of the body through disease or other causes over which they have no responsibility as defective children. This classification is not regarded by those who have had the largest experience with these types of children as either wise or proper. A child who has not the full normal use of any of his organs or of any part of his body is generally sensitive about his condition and needs the sympathy of his fellows who have not suffered the loss and disadvantages that grow out of such physical conditions. If there is a psychological or other advantage in the terminology which may be used in speaking of children of these types, it seems wise and desirable to employ such terms in all references to or discussions of such children. It is not generous nor fair to these children to speak of them as defectives. The common meaning which such term conveys is too broad. Such term has a tendency to bring a degree of reproach upon such children which they do not merit. This is especially true when consideration is given to the general view which prevailed until within the last century and a half, in the civilized countries of the world, in respect to these children. One hundred and fifty years ago they were generally looked upon as children who did not possess the mental capacity for training or for citizenship, who were not generally capable of self-support and who must remain a burden upon society. The belief that the deaf and blind could not be educated was so universal that within the last century they were actually referred to as children of “silence,” “solitude” and “darkness,” “sorrow-stricken children of silence,” “abandoned to his hard fate of wandering in darkness, the pitiable object of dismal despair.”

The results achieved by extending to these children their inherent rights to an education and the standing which the deaf and the blind have attained for themselves in the general affairs of life, when given the same opportunities which have been afforded other children, have led to the adoption of an entirely different policy on the part of society and the state in relation to them. It is now universally recognized that these children are entitled to certain privileges as a matter of right which must be respected by the state and that there are certain definite obligations imposed upon the public which must be discharged. These children should not therefore be classified as defectives or wards of the state. The modern and the most appropriately just classification for these children is to designate them either as deaf children, blind children, or crippled children, or under the general term, physically handicapped children.

The most reliable information obtainable shows that there are in the United States approximately 46,000 deaf persons and 60,000 blind persons. More than 35 per cent of the deaf are born in that condition and about 75 per cent of the deaf become so before they reach legal school age, which is generally, in the American States, five years. Eighty per cent of the deaf children are not able to speak. Less than 2 per cent of the blind are born in that condition and about 12 per cent become blind before they reach the age of 20 years. Statistics show that these several classes of physically handicapped children are distributed through the several States fairly proportionate to the population thereof. The number is so large that it is necessary to provide a comprehensive, well-organized system of education adapted to their needs and conditions, if they are to be afforded the opportunities to prepare themselves for the responsibilities of citizenship which are at all comparable with the opportunities which are afforded the children of the country who labor under no physical handicap whatever.

There is not that uniformity of policy pursued in the several American States in relation to the education of these types of children that is pursued in relation to the education of normal children. There are two fundamental questions which have not been definitely settled in America in relation to the education of these physically handicapped children. These questions are: 1. What is the legal and moral obligation of the State in providing educational facilities for these types of children? Is the education of these children to be looked upon as a matter of charity or a matter of State obligation?

2. Are the facilities which shall be provided for these types of children to be institutional or as nearly like those provided for normal children as may be possible?

The schools first organized for these types of children were established largely through the efforts of men and women interested in such children either from the charitable or philanthropic standpoint. Men and women interested in the subject, persons of means with the philanthropic spirit, civic organizations desiring to promote social welfare and religious organizations were the first promoters of institutions for the education of children of these types. In 1907 the State of Oklahoma incorporated into its constitution the following provision: “The legislature shall establish and maintain a system of free schools wherein all the children of the State may be educated.” (Section 1, article 13).

The constitution of nearly every State in the Union contains a provision similar to that of the State of Oklahoma. This mandatory provision of the fundamental law of each State makes no discrimination between types of children. The provision is that these schools shall be maintained for the purpose of educating all the children and not simply the normal children. There should be therefore a settled policy on the part of every State in the Union to make suitable provision at State or community expense for the education of these children. Children who are so unfortunate as to be afflicted as these children are should be relieved to the same extent that normal children are relieved of the stigma of receiving their education as a matter of charity. The administration of public schools for normal children in every State in the Union is upon the basis that such schools are institutions of the State and must be supported and maintained by public taxation. The same principle should be applied in the maintenance of institutions in which children of these types are educated. The institutions which are maintained for the education of these children should be regarded in every way as educational institutions and they should not be classified nor grouped with charitable, reformatory, correctional or other institutions of this character which are maintained by the State.

The purpose in educating these children is to make them self-respecting, self-supporting and law-abiding citizens of the State. They are to be trained to assume their positions in organized society as other children are trained for that purpose. If this is the conception of the State in authorizing the maintenance of institutions for the purpose of educating these children then it is the obligation of the State to divest from such institutions every element which signifies that such institutions are a part of the charitable system of the State and that the persons educated therein are therefore objects of charity. To instill into their characters the element of independence essential to success in life the State must avoid the maintenance of institutions for their education which compel those who are trained therein to feel and believe that they are dependents.

There are many reasons why these types of children should be afforded educational facilities in the public schools of the city or district in which they reside whenever it is possible to do so. This is the modern trend in connection with the education of these children. Of course, this was not possible in the early history of the development of institutions for the education of these children, when such children were so sparsely distributed throughout the country. In large numbers of the cities of the country, there are now a sufficient number of children of each of these types to warrant provision for special classes in the regular public schools. It is not possible to provide for the establishment of such classes in the States which do not have large cities or in the territory of many of the States outside of their large cities. It will be necessary therefore to maintain institutions for the education of such of these children as live in these remote or more sparsely settled parts of the country. In about one-third of the States however there are public day-schools for children of these types. They have the advantage therefore of association with normal children and the personal consciousness that they are being educated for citizenship under the identical plan provided for the education of other children. The thought that these children are different from other children is thus largely avoided. An argument of great weight in favor of this mode of educating these children is that they are afforded the opportunity of remaining at home and therefore of having the influences and pleasures which home life provides. The feeling generally is somewhat repugnant to the idea of taking children at these tender ages, who possess such afflictions, from their relatives and homes and placing them among strangers in an institution. Such action must be avoided whenever it may be. It will also be more economical to provide for the education of these children in the regular public day-school than to pay for their education in institutions especially maintained therefor. The whole trend in modern school organization is in favor of this idea. The introduction into the schools of industrial education makes it possible to provide the facilities for the education of children of these types which are afforded in the special institutions.

The most advanced expression of public opinion upon this subject will be found in the law enacted in the State of New York in 1917. This law requires the board of education of each city and of each union free school district to take a census of all the physically handicapped children in such city or district. In those cities or districts in which there are 10 or more children of one of these types, the law makes it obligatory upon school boards to establish a special class and to provide instruction adapted to the mental attainments of the children and to their physical condition. This law also authorizes the school authorities of a city or district in which there are less than 10 children of one of these types to contract with the board of education of another city or district or with an established institution in the State for the education of such children.

Deaf Children. — There are recorded many early efforts on the part of individuals to teach some deaf friend or relative. The earliest record is probably that of a deaf person taught by Bishop John of York in 691. It is also recorded that Girolamo Cardona, a distinguished physician of Pavia, invented the first manual alphabet about the middle of the 16th century. The first organized class of deaf pupils to receive instruction, of which there is a record, was probably in the convent of San Salvador de Ona in Spain, and was taught by Pedro Ponce de Leon in 1550. It is claimed that his pupils became proficient students in arithmetic, Spanish, Latin, Greek and astrology. It was not however until about 1750 that the education of the deaf began to receive general attention in the countries of Europe. Schools had been established in England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Holland before the demand for their organization in America was created. In America as in Europe, the first effort was in an individual case when Philip Nelson of Rawley, Mass., was taught by Isaac Kilbourne in 1679. John Harrower, a teacher in Fredericksburg, Va., wrote in his diary that from 1773 to 1776 he had a deaf boy in his school. The real foundation of the education of the deaf in the United States, was begun in the city of New York in 1810. John Stanford, a minister, had discovered several deaf children in the city almshouse. He readily recognized the need of these children and believed that they could be taught. He undertook to give them instruction. Interest in behalf of deaf children was growing and, in 1816, a census showed that there were 66 deaf children in the city of New York. Public meetings were held for the purpose of stimulating interest in these children and one of the meetings took place in Tammany Hall. Private funds were collected to aid in this work. The legislature authorized a charter for the New York Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb in 1817 and in the following rear the school was organized. The city of New York showed its special interest in this work by making an appropriation to support it and pledging the city to maintain a limited number of pupils. The city also provided rooms for carrying on the work without cost to the institution. In 1819 the legislature made a special appropriation to aid the school and later appropriated a per capita sum for the support of each pupil. It was the initial work of the Rev. John Stanford therefore which led to the establishment of this institution.

Previous to this, Americans, who possessed the means and who had deaf children, sent such children to England or Scotland to be educated. Two families had controlled the education of the deaf in these countries and had found it profitable employment. They were the Braidwood and the Watson families. One of the former, who had become involved in certain scandals, left Scotland and came to America in 1815 to organize an institution in this country for the education of the deaf. Various attempts were made by him to organize an institution in New York, Baltimore and different places in Virginia. However, he did not succeed.

The man who did the great pioneer work in America in the development of institutions for the education of the deaf was Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (q.v.). He was a young minister in Hartford, Conn., and in that city lived a young deaf girl by the name of Alice Cogswell. Her father was a physician. Because of her family's standing and of her intelligence, many persons in that city had become interested in her. This interest led to a census of the community and more than 80 deaf children were discovered. It was estimated that there were 400 deaf children in New England and 2,000 in America. The knowledge of this condition led to an effort to organize an institution to provide for the education of these children. Gallaudet was sent to Europe to investigate the subject and when he returned he brought with him Laurent Clerc, a deaf teacher who had been employed in teaching the deaf in Paris. Upon his return Gallaudet undertook to raise the necessary funds for the organization of a school. The principal cities of the country were visited, including New York, Philadelphia, Albany, New Haven and Boston. The legislature of Connecticut authorized the organization of an institution in 1816 by granting a charter. That State also appropriated $5,000. This was probably the first appropriation in America of public funds for the education of deaf or other physically handicapped children. Twelve thousand dollars had been raised by subscription previous to the opening of the school at Hartford, on 15 April 1817, and soon after an additional $12,000 was raised by the same method. The institution soon obtained a national reputation. Gallaudet went to Washington in 1819 to interest Congress in the movement. He met Henry Clay and, through the influence of that Southern statesman, Congress appropriated 23,000 acres of public bind. From this appropriation the institution realized the sum of $300,000. The school was particularly regarded as a New England institution. Massachusetts instituted the policy of sending its deaf children to this school to be educated. Each of the other New England States followed the example of Massachusetts. Georgia and South Carolina did likewise and many private pupils were sent to the school from different parts of the country. Within the next decade institutions were founded in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Kentucky. These were all organized as private institutions. In 1823 Kentucky established an institution which was the first State school for the deaf in the country and this may be regarded as the beginning of a change of policy in the education of the deaf. Congress gave aid to this institution. For many years the deaf children from the Southern States and from many of the Western States were sent to this institution to be educated. From this time on the State recognized its obligation in providing for the education of these children by the establishment of institutions as State institutions in nearly all the States of the Union. The schools thereafter established, except in Maryland, New England and some of the Eastern States, have been organized as State institutions.

Every State except Delaware, New Hampshire, Nevada and Wyoming maintain an institution for the education of the deaf. Because of their small population these States find it more economical to provide for the education of their deaf children in the institutions of other States. There are 65 State institutions in the United States. Forty-eight of these are owned by the States which have erected them. In Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland there are 17 institutions owned by private corporations but under the general supervision and inspection of the State. Many of these institutions have been endowed. Appropriations are made by the State for the construction of new buildings for these Institutions and for repairs and improvements to their plants. A per capita allowance is also appropriated by the State to the institution for the maintenance of students.

When institutions were first organized by the States it was the policy to restrict the number of students who might attend to a certain number of indigent pupils from a political division. The number was gradually increased and the language modified which classified them as indigent pupils. Finally no limitations were imposed but the right of any deaf child in the State to attend was clearly specified in the law and provision made for meeting the expense.

An examination of the census of the United States shows that the deaf are generally employed in the chief industries of the country known as trades and in about the same proportion as hearing people. The number of deaf employed in the occupations which are classed as manufacturing and mechanical are much greater in proportion than the number of hearing persons so employed, while the number employed in mercantile and commercial pursuits is much less. The percentage of the deaf who either own or give direction to the business in which they are employed is about the same proportion as the hearing people. There appears to be no discriminatory action on the part of the employer in employing the deaf. He is employed under the same conditions and at the same compensation that others are employed. About 80 per cent of the deaf are employed in gainful occupations and about 90 per cent are self-supporting. The character of the instruction which the deaf should receive therefore does not differ from the instruction essential to a well-trained normal child. The courses of instruction in reading, language, history, arithmetic and all book-work as well as courses in vocational work for children are suitably adapted to the needs of deaf children. The method of instruction must, of course, be different.

The sign language has been used in the instruction of the deaf since special schools have been organized for their education. This system is called the manual or sign method. There is also a method known as the oral method. Many teachers employ a combination of the two methods. The sign language has always been the chief vehicle through which the deaf express themselves. There is a great disadvantage in this method since the public is not generally able to use it or to interpret it. The deaf have therefore been unable to communicate readily with those with whom they must transact their business affairs. There have been advocates of another method from the very beginning almost of the period when instruction was provided for the deaf. Dr. John Bulwer of England wrote in 1648, ‘Philocophus, or the Deaf and Dumb Man's Friend,’ in which he describes a method of articulation and lip-reading for the deaf, and in 1669, Dr. William Holder published a work on the ‘Elements of Speech.’ In this work Dr. Holder advocated the teaching of the deaf by a process of articulation. At this early date the foundation of the two rival methods of the present day for the instruction of the deaf was established.

Samuel Heinicke opened a school in Hamburg in 1754 and in 1778 on invitation of the government he removed the school to Leipzig. The State supported the school and this appears to be the first public school for the deaf. He was one of the great deaf teachers, was an advocate of the oral method and influenced the method of teaching the deaf in European countries and in America. Charles Michel, Abbe de l'Epée, was the founder of the first school in Paris which he organized in 1755. He probably exerted a greater influence on the instruction of the deaf in America than any other teacher.

The New York institution is said to have been organized as a day school in protest against the alphabet method of instruction and to have been conducted as a school using the oral method for 11 years. In 1869 the Boston Horace Mann school was organized as a day school and since that time day schools for the deaf have been established in 14 States. Such schools have been organized extensively in Wisconsin and Michigan. In the former State such schools have been organized in 24 cities or villages with an enrolment ranging from 5 to 146. In the latter State schools have been established in 14 cities or villages. The large cities are organizing such schools and they will be found in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Saint Louis, Saint Paul, Newark, Atlanta, New Orleans and others.

About 72 per cent of all the deaf pupils are taught the combination method, 26 per cent the oral method and 2 per cent the manual or alphabet method. About 83 per cent of all the deaf children under instruction or about 12,000 are in attendance upon institutions, about 14 per cent of these children or 2,000 are in attendance upon day schools and about 4 per cent or 600 in private schools.

High school courses for deaf students are generally provided. Gallaudet College, an institution for the deaf and named in honor of the American champion of the rights of the deaf, was organized in Washington in 1864 and is supported by the national government. See also Deaf; Deaf, Education of the; Deaf-Blind.

Blind Children. — The efforts to develop a system of education for the blind have paralleled in many ways the efforts to develop a system of education for the deaf. For centuries the blind were regarded as objects of pity and as unfortunate beings. There is authority for the statement that a hospital for the blind was established by Saint Basil at Cæsarea in the 4th century and that a refuge for the blind was established in Syria in the 5th century. There is no record of consideration of any importance having been given to this type of unfortunate beings from the 7th century until the middle of the 13th century. It is recorded that King Louis IX of France established an institution for the blind about 1260. There are numerous records of individual efforts to teach the blind to read in the early centuries. These records show activities in Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France, England and Germany. It was not, however, until the close of the 18th century that success was attained in efforts to establish schools to be devoted to the teaching and training of the blind.

The one pioneer in this great work, to whom the blind are indebted most for the laying of a foundation for a system of education which has resulted in training thousands of blind people to become self-supporting and to get pleasure out of life, is Valentin Haüy, a Frenchman, who was born in Picardy in 1745. M. Haüy became interested in a blind boy by the name of François Lesueur. He had been much interested in the blind because of various experiences which he had with them. He had even made an investigation as to the methods employed by other persons who had attempted to teach the blind. M. Haüy is the inventor of the first system of embossed printing for the blind. It was through an experience with the boy, Lesueur, who was employed in his office, that led to the invention of this system. When engaged in sorting papers on M. Haüy's desk, the boy obtained a card which had been deeply indented by type. The boy was able to trace out several of the letters on this card with his finger and was, of course, greatly delighted to show his master what he had discovered. M. Haüy then made several experiments with the boy and in this way obtained the idea of devising a system of training for the blind. He submitted to the Academy of Science at Paris in 1785 a plan outlining his method of giving instruction to the blind. A committee was appointed by that body to examine into the matter, and, after making due investigation, they gave M. Haüy credit for inventing the relief printing for the blind. In submitting its report, the committee stated:

“We propose to the academy to give its approbation to the method which M. Haüy has presented to it and to exhort him to make it public and to assure him that it will willingly receive any account that he may give of his efforts to carry it to the degree of perfection of which he is susceptible.”

He undoubtedly established the first school in the world for the education of the blind. This school was known as L'institution Nationale des Jeunes Aveugles and was established in France in 1784. In 1791 this institution, due to the Napoleonic wars, was discontinued and was not again opened until 1815. Doctor Guillie was then made the head of this institution. Industrial education was the basis of instruction given in this early school and it was continued under a larger and more practical plan by Dr. Guillie. He obtained much new equipment for the institution. The principal handicrafts which were taught in this school were spinning, weaving, sewing, knitting, chair caning, rope making, shoe making, harness making, etc. When the institution was closed under Napoleon's rule M. Haüy accepted an invitation from Tsar Alexander I to go to Saint Petersburg for the purpose of organizing an institution for the blind in that city. On his journey to Saint Petersburg, he spent some months at Berlin. King Frederick William III became interested in the blind and through the work of M. Haüy the foundation for an institution was laid. He spent 11 years in Russia but did not succeed in establishing an institution.

Soon after the efforts of M. Haüy to establish an institution for the blind in France, Edward Rushton began the education of the blind in England. J. Christie, a blind man in Liverpool, and a clergyman by the name of Dannett co-operated with him. Subscriptions were obtained for the enterprise and a school for the indigent blind was organized in Liverpool in 1791. The organization of this school created great interest in the blind people in England, and another school was organized at Bristol in 1793, and at London in 1799. Schools followed in Edinburgh, Scotland and Dublin, Ireland. At the beginning of the 19th century Herr Johann Wilhelm Klein became greatly interested in the blind children of Austria. He had observed many pitiable cases of the unfortunate blind children of that country. He received much encouragement, as did M. Haüy of Paris, from Maria Theresia Von Paradis, a blind Austrian singer, who had inspired these men in the belief that through a system of education the blind could be relieved of much of their misery and raised to a high degree of cultural standing. It was through the influence of these men and the schools which they established that institutions for the education of the blind were established throughout the countries of Europe between 1790 and 1810.

Maria Theresia Von Paradis had an important part in developing interest in this subject. She came from an influential family. She possessed musical talent which her parents recognized and provided the best teachers obtainable for her. An interesting plan was devised in teaching her to read. Pins were placed in a cushion so as to form the several letters of the alphabet. By placing her fingers on the pin heads constituting these forms, she was able to recognize the different letters and learn to read. Later similar letters were formed by making perforations in stout paper with a pin. She was able to determine the letters from the raised rough edges of the paper which these perforations made. Later a special press was made for her and with this she was able to print German characters in relief. As a child she was an efficient organist and became a notable singer in church choirs at an early age. The Empress Maria Theresa became attached to this young blind girl and provided a pension sufficient for her maintenance. As early as 1784 she traveled through Europe and captivated the whole world through the great musical talent which she exhibited.

Another blind person of an earlier period even than this blind girl, who aroused great interest in the need of educating blind children, was Nicholas Saunderson. He was am Englishman, born in Yorkshire in 1682. He became totally blind at the age of two. He attended a regular public school with seeing children and acquired a fine classical education. He later met distinguished teachers and through them became much interested in mathematics. He invented the abacus. He used this in determining mathematical problems. He later became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge. Other distinguished blind persons who exerted a powerful influence in developing interest in the education of the blind were Milton, the Scottish preacher Blacklock, and the engineer John Metcalf.

Schools were well organized throughout Europe before America gave this question much consideration. There were three schools in this country where the pioneer work in the education of the blind took place. The first school in America opened for the education of blind children was the New York Institution for the Blind. This institution was chartered by the State legislature in 1831 and has been in continuous operation since that date. A group of citizens in New York recognized the need of providing educational facilities for blind children. The founders of the school desired to provide facilities for the children whose parents were unable to pay for their education and at the same time to receive students whose parents were able to pay for their instruction. The school was started as a charitable institution. Its doors were opened 15 March 1832 with only three blind children. Soon after two other children were admitted. The prime movers in the foundation of this school were Dr. Samuel Akerly and Samuel Wood, a well-known philanthropist. Dr. John D. Ross had discovered several blind children in the almshouse of the city and he was taking measures to organize a school when he learned of the work which the other two men had already done in this direction. He co-operated with them and was chosen as the head of this primitive school for the blind in America.

Dr. John D. Fisher of Boston was pursuing medical studies in Paris and he frequently visited L'Institution Nationale which had been organized by M. Haüy. He became interested in the subject and was desirous of establishing a similar school for the benefit of blind children in America. He returned to Boston in 1826 and began to urge the plan upon his friends. A meeting of those interested in the subject was held in 1829. A committee was appointed by this meeting which applied to the legislature of Massachusetts for a charter for an institution to be called the New England Asylum for the Blind. This charier was granted 2 March 1829. It appears, however, that no action was taken toward the organization of the school until 1831. Dr. Samuel G. Howe was then elected superintendent. He was sent abroad to familiarize himself with methods of instruction. He returned in 1832 and opened a school at South Boston with a class of six children. The school in New York had been opened a few months before the one in Boston was opened by Dr. Howe. In 1833 the Pennsylvania Institution for the Instruction of the Blind was established in Philadelphia. These institutions were organized by contributions from private sources but have for years received appropriations from the State.

In 1830 the United States government took its first census of the blind. This census showed that there were 5,444 blind persons in the country. The superintendent of the blind schools at New York, Boston and Philadelphia took groups of their pupils to different parts of the country to demonstrate to the people the feasibility of educating the blind. These tours created a profound impression upon the people all over the country and developed a sentiment which resulted in the establishment of other institutions. In 1837 an institution for the blind was established in the State of Ohio. This was the first school organized purely as a State institution. Other States followed in the establishment of such institutions until at the present time there are about 50 State institutions attended by more than 5,000 blind children. The last Federal census shows that there are about 60,000 blind people in the United States and that 10 per cent of these are of school age. In nine of the States provision is made for the education of the blind children who are under school age. The best modern thought is that children who are born blind should be placed under instruction at the earliest moment possible and that all children who become blind before they reach school age should also be placed under instruction as early as possible. The institutions for the blind are generally under the control of local honorary boards of trustees. This board selects the superintendent or principal of the institution. The institutions generally are subject to inspection by the State educational authorities.

Great interest has been manifested all over the country in the education of the blind within the last 20 years. The modern trend of thought is to provide for the education of blind children in the public school system. The first city in this country to try this experiment was Chicago. In 1900 that city organized a special class for the blind in one of its public schools. The experiment was a success. Additional classes were organized in that city and soon thereafter other cities began to incorporate into their school systems special classes for the blind. Such classes are now maintained in the schools of Cincinnati, Milwaukee, New York, Racine, Newark, Jersey City and many others. Chicago has three schools located in different parts of the city so as to make them the most accessible possible to all the blind children in the city. In New York city special classes have been organized in 12 of the different public schools of that city. When a blind pupil enters a special class in a public school he is assigned to a special room with a special teacher. The number of pupils in a class varies from 5 to 15. In this special class the pupils are taught to read and write in American Braille. When the child becomes able to read and write, he takes his place in the regular school classes and recites with the seeing children. He takes his turn in reading, writing, and in reciting in other subjects. After the recitation is concluded, the blind child goes to a special room to prepare his lessons under the direction of a special teacher. The theory is to arrange the work of the blind child so that he will continually spend more and more time with the seeing children.

The course of study for the blind is quite similar to the regular courses of the public schools. The tendency is to start the blind child in the kindergarten. The blind children who have kindergarten training make better progress in their work than those who have not had it. The course includes reading, writing, numbers, history, geography, physiology, nature study, etc. Physical training and music are two vital features of every well-regulated course of study for the blind. The setting-up exercises, the usual games for children in the classroom and on the playground, folk dancing, skating, rope jumping, and all the usual games and sports for seeing children are adaptable to the blind children. These physical exercises are essential to their proper physical development and to their health. They also aid materially in developing independence, comradeship, and community interest in the blind child. The courses of study extend through the elementary school and the high school. Eighteen blind children who completed the course of instruction in the elementary schools in New York city in the school year ending 1 July 1916 entered the high schools of that city in September of that year. These children are now trained for more extended service than in former years. In addition to the manual occupations, they are now trained for business positions, for teachers, for salesmen, typewriters, and several have taken up the profession of osteopathy. Many of them become fine musicians, organists, piano tuners, etc. That the blind have the capacity to obtain leadership is demonstrated by Huber, the naturalist; Prescott, the historian; Rodenbach, the Belgian statesman; Fawcett, the English statesman; and Gore, United States senator from Oklahoma. The names of Dr. Howe, Dr. Moon, and Dr. Wait will always be associated in America with the development of methods for teaching blind children. They did a great work in this field of education.

The line alphabets which were used for many years in giving instruction to the blind have been abandoned. The point systems have come into general use. These are known as “braille.” The base is a cell of six points. The characters used are made by various combinations of these six points; 62 characters are used. These characters each represent a letter, a mark of punctuation or a contraction standing for several letters. The system is named after its author, Lewis Braille, who devised it in 1825. There has been a long controversy between teachers of the blind as to whether the braille system or certain modifications devised by American teachers is the better. There appears to be no great fundamental difference in these systems. The American modification of the system differs from the other simply in the assignment of the letters to the various combinations. The American idea was that such letters as E, O, R, S, T, which occur most frequently in words, should be made with the fewest dots. One of the most noted teachers of the blind states that the New York point differs from braille by its characters being two points high and three wide instead of three points high and two wide. This author states that while the New York point system has many advantages, it has many disadvantages.

Most attention in the education of the blind has been given to the education of blind children. Although the great majority of the blind become so after reaching 20 years of age, there has been an apparent neglect in the education of the adult blind. Various organizations have been formed in recent years which are giving the needs of the adult blind special attention. State commissions have been organized by legislative authority in certain States supported by State funds, to provide for the education of the adult blind. In some instances, as in New York, the commission makes provision for home teachers. Under this method a teacher goes from home to home and gives instruction to the blind adult in his home.

A potent factor in the education of the blind adult is the work done through libraries. In March 1896 a library section for the blind was incorporated in the New York State Library. In the same year the Detroit Public Library selected 110 volumes and made these available for the blind of the city. The Library of Congress at Washington established a reading-room for the blind in 1879. There are now (1918) about 70 libraries maintaining divisions which contain embossed type books which are circulated among the blind people.

Crippled Children. — It was not regarded necessary to provide separate schools for crippled children until many years after schools had been founded for the other types of physically handicapped children. In recent years the number of crippled children has increased, owing to the prevalence of tuberculosis and infantile paralysis and to other causes.

In 1832 Bavaria established at Munich the first institution in the world for the education of crippled children. Up until 1890 only five institutions had been established in the United States. Three of these were in New York city and two in Philadelphia. Since 1890, 31 institutions for the education of crippled children have been established in this country.

Children's hospitals and orthopedic institutions have been organized from private contributions for the treatment of crippled children. In many of these institutions, provision has been made for their instruction during the period of time they have been under treatment therein. In Massachusetts, New York, Nebraska and Minnesota State hospitals have been established, and graded schools maintained by the State in connection with such institutions. However the means afforded for the education of this type of unfortunate children are not adequate to provide for the treatment and the education of the crippled children of the country. There is a large class of these children whose parents cannot afford to meet the expense of their maintenance in private institutions, and whose education is being neglected. Many crippled children who are physically able have always attended the public schools. A crippled child, possessing his mental faculties and being physically able to attend school, will make better progress by associating with normal children than by attending a special institution. In many of the large cities of the country, special schools are maintained by the municipality and in some cases in co-operation with contributed funds, for the education of this type of children. In other cities, the public school authorities set apart rooms in the public school buildings for the purpose of providing educational facilities for these crippled children. Each city and school district in the State of New York in which there are 10 or more crippled children is obligated, under the law of 1917, to establish a special class and to provide instruction adapted to the mental attainments of the children and to their physical condition. In a city or district in which there are less than 10 of these children, the school authorities are authorized to contract with the board of education of another city or district, or with an established institution in the State, for the education of such children.

The cities of Chicago, Cleveland, Boston and New York maintain day school buildings which have been designed, constructed and equipped with special reference to the needs and comforts of crippled children. These buildings are not all of the same type, but in them will be found such conveniences as inclines and elevators instead of stairways, movable chairs instead of desks, rubber or cork floors and handrails at low levels. Special chairs and seats accommodated to the physical defects of the children, couches, air cushions, folding chairs, blankets, sweaters, etc., are also provided. The Crippled Children's East Side Free School of New York city accommodates 200 and is the largest institution of the kind in the country.

Provision must be made for taking these children from their homes to the schools and for returning them to their homes. They cannot, of course, return home at the noon hour and it is necessary, therefore, to provide luncheon for them. The transportation and the luncheon are items of additional expense to the maintenance of these schools. In most cities the children are taken to and from the schools which they attend in large omnibuses drawn by horses. The tendency now is to change to the auto-bus. The seats in the buses used for this purpose are constructed to meet the physical defects of the children. Attendants accompany all buses to see that the children are properly taken in and out of the buses, the school buildings and their homes and that they have safe transportation.

In the larger cities, where rooms in the public school buildings are set apart for these children, an orthopedic surgeon or a nurse is provided to give such special treatment to the children as may be needed. The city of New York maintains 60 schools or classes for the crippled children of that municipality.

Those children who are suffering from bone tuberculosis should be segregated from the other children and provision should be made for their maintenance, if possible, in a separate building. Open-air schools should be established for all children of this type.

All these different agencies for the education of the crippled children still fail to provide facilities for some of these unfortunate children. There are many children who are so badly crippled that they are prevented from attending institutions or schools even with all the comforts and conveniences which are provided for them. The only way by which such children may be instructed is through a teacher who visits them at home. To meet the needs of these children it is proposed in New York city, through funds provided by the Association of Public School Teachers, to employ visiting teachers who will go among the homes of the children and given them instruction.

Through private funds provision is made by some of the organized institutions for the care and education of crippled children whereby such children are given an opportunity to spend a few weeks in the country. Summer homes have been established for this purpose by some of these institutions in New York, Baltimore and other cities.

The work in these special classes for crippled children is based upon that of the regular elementary school work of the city in which the classes are organized. This work includes a large amount of handwork such as basketry, weaving, sewing, etc. Only in exceptional cases is there an effort made to carry the pupils beyond the elementary grades.

This movement of recent years to provide special classes in the public schools and home teachers for those unable to go to school, thus making an elementary education accessible for all the physically handicapped children of the country and at the same time affording them the associations and influences of home life, is a manifestation of the broad, humane, democratic spirit of the philosophy upon which American public education is founded.

Thomas E. Finegan,
Deputy Commissioner of Education and Assistant Commissioner for Elementary Education, State Department of Education, Albany, N. Y.