The New York Institute For Special Education

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· Serving Students with Special Needs since 1831 ·
These Are Our Children (1957) » Outline of Service to the Blind

Outline of Service to the Blind


THE NEW YORK INSTITUTE FOR THE EDUCATION OF THE BLIND, founded in 1831, was the first school to open its doors for the blind of the new world. During its 126 years of continuous service, the thousands of blind children who have come under its influence have been enabled to live more useful and happier lives.

The Institute, a non-sectarian, tuition-free resident school, is maintained through public subscription and operated under the supervision of the New York State Board of Regents.
Located in midtown Manhattan until 1924, it now occupies 27 acres in the East Bronx of New York City fronting on Pelham Parkway and lying between Bronxwood Avenue and Williamsbridge Road. Its 16 red-brick buildings, in Dutch Colonial architectural design, are symmetrically arranged on a beautifully landscaped campus equipped with athletic fields, playgrounds, student gardens and other agricultural and animal husbandry facilities.

Its current student-body of 200 boys and girls of ages from 3 to 21 years is drawn principally from New York City and its environs. In addition to the special care and training that they require, these blind children are given approved, academic and vocational training in preparation for college and business pursuits.

The academic program embraces courses at all levels up to college, beginning with the nursery and kindergarten and continuing through elementary and secondary schools. There is also a separate school for the deaf-blind with its own staff and specially equipped building.

The vocational training is varied. Rudimentary instruction is given in machine-equipped shops in the metal, leather and wood-working. The program also includes agricultural and animal husbandry projects, courses in radio repair, piano tuning and repair, shoe repair, massage and a variety of arts and crafts. For the girls, there are courses in the operation of the power-sewing machine, home economics, beauty culture and office practice. The music department, one of the oldest and most popular at the Institute, is designed not only to prepare talented musicians for professional careers in music but also to encourage music as a cultural accomplishment, and for its own enjoyment. In addition to choral and instrumental ensembles, individual instruction is given in voice, piano, organ and other instruments.

The extra-curricular activities parallel those of any well-conducted resident, co-educational school. They include such activities as "scouting," participation in civic and community projects, dramatics, intramural and interscholastic sports and social functions-all of which are both recreational and helpful in the social adjustment and integration.

The diagnostic clinic employs the most advanced methods for the screening and measuring of the aptitudes of the children. It has proven an important aid to the' student and to the vocational guidance staff in planning his under-graduate and post-graduate activities for which he is best suited and which for him holds the greatest promise of success.

Two extracurricular activities carried on by the Institute are its International Scholarship Program and Camp Wapanacki. Through its Scholarship Program, inaugurated in 1935, it provides free room and board and other facilities to adult students who come to New York from other States and foreign countries to prepare themselves to teach blind children in their home communities. They take prescribed post-graduate courses at Hunter College, supplemented by practical work with the Institute faculty and children, in applied teaching and training. Camp Wapanacki, at Hardwick, Vermont, is a mountain-lake camp operated by the Institute during July and August, for blind children free of cost to them. It is maintained by contributions from the public for that purpose and wholly separate from the operation of the school. It is not limited to the children of the Institute but is available to and availed of by many others.

The governing body of the Institute is its Board of Managers, consisting of twenty Managers-seventeen men and three women. Through the years these men and women have been active and representative individuals of New York City, who have brought and given to the Institute the benefits of their various abilities and experience.

History has recorded and will continue to record the contributions of the blind to the cultural, industrial and civic growth of our country-contributions made possible, in part, by the vision and planning of such organizations as THE NEW YORK INSTITUTE FOR THE EDUCATION OF THE BLIND. In short, this continuing effort to alleviate the handicap of blindness is the story of the Institute and of its people.