CHAPTER IV
THE NEEDY BLIND

Physical and mental disabilities have always been a cause of need. The disabled one frequently is unable to support himself and those who may have been dependent on him. One of the fairly early groups differentiated from the mass were those suffering from severe mental impairments. Provision for them was made by giving both support and treatment in hospitals for the insane, usually state operated.1 Much later support and care were frequently provided for the feeble minded, usually in state institutions, and for the tubercular in state or local institutions.

Two other classes of disabled secured special consideration, perhaps mainly as the result of the development of the public educational system. The congenitally deaf--often referred to in earlier days as the deaf and dumb--and the blind from birth or early childhood could not usually be provided for in the public schools operated by local governmental units, and they were not ordinarily sufficiently numerous to warrant the maintenance of special schools by the local governments. State schools for the deaf and state schools for the blind were established by a number of states, furnishing support and special education. These special schools generally had distinctly vocational aspects, because it was obvious that occupational opportunities for these classes were limited. In several states, the state operated workshops for the blind. The state agency responsible for the school for the blind became responsible in some cases for the maintenance of these workshops and for the re-education and occupational rehabilitation of persons who lost their sight after childhood. In many communities the work for the adult blind was little developed, and many who became blind in later life were dependent on general public assistance or private

____________________
1
The care and treatment were not necessarily given without payment by relatives if they had sufficient means to pay at least part of the costs.

-68-

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