Jay Copp 2014-10-17 11:47:25
43 Facts You Should Know About Blindness 1 In most early civilizations blind men are sold into ship galley slavery and blind women are sold into prostitution or the blind survive as beggars. 2 The first Pharaohs around 3000 B.C. command that blind infants be left to die. 3 By 2500 B.C. Egyptians treat eye disease and educate the blind. 4 A blind Pharaoh about 700 B.C. forcefully regains his throne after a foreign invasion. 5 The blind poet Homer of Greece presumably authors both the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” in the 9th century B.C. 6 Roman healers in the first century use a needle to crudely push a cataract lens out of the visual field. 7 Some Roman cities limit infanticide, requiring, for example, the consent of five neighbors before a newborn could be killed. 8 Similar to the guilds of the era, brotherhoods of the blind organize in Europe in the Middle Ages to advance their interests. 9 The English poet John Milton writes the masterpiece “Paradise Lost” after becoming blind around 1652. 10 Taught with letters of wood in 1676, Esther Elizabeth von Waldkirch, the daughter of a rich Swiss merchant, becomes the first k 11 In 1714, English engineer Henry Miller patents with the queen as an aid to the blind a mechanical writing machine– the precursor of the typewriter. 12 In 1749 the acclaimed French encyclopedist Denis Diderot arouses a spirited public debate after publishing a letter arguing that the blind could be educated. 13 Inspired by an appalling scene in a Parisian café where blind men wearing dunce caps and cardboard glasses entertain diners by playing out-of-tune on violins, Valentin Haüy founds the first school for the blind in 1784. 14 Around 1800, French army captain Charles Barbier invents a way for soldiers to communicate silently in the dark through raised dots and dashes on cardboard. 15 Blinded in an accident as a boy, Louis Braille, a student at the school founded by Haüy, learns of Barbier’s “nightwriting” system when the ex-soldier visits the school, inspiring the precocious 15-year-old to develop Braille in 1824. 16 The first residential school for the blind in the United States, the New England Asylum for the Blind (now called the Perkins School for the Blind) opens in 1829. 17 In 1862, Herman Snellen, a Dutch eye doctor, invents the Snellen chart to test visual acuity–letters or numbers of varying sizes arranged in rows. 18 Helen Keller is born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880. 19 Anne Sullivan gives Keller an understanding of language in 1887. 20 Greatly improving upon writing Braille with a slate and stylus, Frank Hall of the Illinois School for the Blind introduces the Hall Braillewriter in 1892. 21 Keller becomes a worldwide celebrity when “The Story of My Life” is published in 1903. 22 New York state makes education compulsory for blind students in 1911. 23 Melvin Jones, a 38-year-old Chicago insurance executive, forms Lions Clubs in 1917. 24 After World War I, Germans, impressed how dogs located soldiers and led rescuers on the battlefield, train dogs as guides for men blinded in combat. 25 Although almost completely blind, French impressionist Claude Monet paints his famous “Water Lilies” mural in 1919. 26 Keller beseeches Lions to be “Knights of the Blind” at their international convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1925. 27 Learning of guide dogs while living in Switzerland, Dorothy Harrison Eustis returns to America and establishes in Nashville the first U.S. dog guide school, the Seeing Eye, in 1929. 28 George Bonham of the Peoria Lions Club in Illinois begins a campaign in 1930 that leads to every state passing White Cane safety laws by 1956. 29 The American Foundation for the Blind develops Talking Books in 1932. 30 The U.S. Congress passes the Social Security Act, which includes the Aid to the Blind rehabilitation program, in 1935. 31 Three Detroit Lions establish Leader Dogs for the Blind in 1938. 32 Dedicated to equality and integration, the National Federation of the Blind is formed in 1940. 33 The Buffalo Lions Club in New York founds the world’s second eye bank, the Buffalo Eye Bank, in 1945. 34 The U.S. Congress passes the first law requiring public schools to accept handicapped students in “the least restrictive environment” in 1975. 35 Raymond Kurzweil creates the Kurzweil reader, a prototype translator of printed material into synthesized speech, in 1976. 36 A study shows that only 31 percent of working-age adults with vision loss work compared to 72 percent of the entire U.S. working-age population in 1976. 37 Lions Clubs International launches its SightFirst program in 1989. 38 SightFirst celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2004 with a symbolic 24 million candles on its birthday cake: the number of people saved from serious vision loss or whose vision was restored. 39 Lions raise more than $200 million by 2008 for Campaign SightFirst II to save sight. 40 The Centers for Disease Control predicts in 2009 that diabetic-related blindness among working age Americans will triple within six years. 41 Thanks in part to Lions, 39 million people are estimated to be blind in 2010, a 14 percent drop in five years. 42 Lions, The Carter Center and Pfizer mark the 100 millionth dose of Zithromax® distributed to prevent trachoma, a blinding disease, in 2013. 43 In 2013, the FDA approves a special camera that transmits electrical impulses to electrodes implanted in the eye that help some blind people regain part of their sight. Sources: The American Foundation for the Blind, the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, and “The Legacy of the Past” by Regi Enerstvedt.
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