Ostern in Garden: Easter in the Garden by Perkins School for the Blind Archives
Via Flickr:
Description: Small groups of two or three girls outside in a garden. Small gazebo in background and many leafless trees. From a display panel titled “Im Alten Garten” or “In the Old Garden”. Imperial Royal Institute for the Education of the Blind, Vienna. Date: 1878-1898 Creator: Alexander Mell Format: black and white photograph Digital Identifier: AG129_44_0002_h Digitization: Digitized at the Boston Public Library and federally funded with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Rights: Samuel P. Hayes Research Library, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Circle dance, Overbrook School for the Blind, Philadelphia by Perkins School for the Blind Archives
Via Flickr:
Description: Several dozen older girls on the grass with linked hands forming two concentric circles. The girls wear ankle-length skirts and leather boots. Date: circa 1903 Format: black and white photograph Digital Identifier: AG150_01_0011_b Digitization: Digitized at the Boston Public Library and federally funded with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Rights: Samuel P. Hayes Research Library, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA


10/6: Taste of Perkins (Perkins School for the Blind)

Mystery Foods :: Blind Tasting:

Orb of Cucumber Water + square of Savory French Toast (w/ Cinnamon Scented Bread filled w/ Mole Beef) + Passion Fruit Curd (w/ Coconut Milk Tapioca and Basil Gelee) + Chocolate Caramel Crisp “Snow Cones”

Mystery Wines :: Blind Tasting:

Blush, Chardonnay, Grenache and a Red Bordeaux

+ open bar and a grazing table w/ Asian Noodle Boxes (w/ sesame salmon and julienne vegetables), Thai Summer Rolls (w/ cucumber dipping sauce) and Vietnamese Chicken Bahn Mi (w/ cilantro, daikon, carrot and sriracha aioli)

one of my best buddies, Stephanie, is the Graphics and Events Coordinator at Perkins School for the Blind, and as soon as she invited me to this event, I knew I had to go

Taste of Perkins offered this awesome exploration of the senses, blindfolding you, and challenging you to taste, smell and feel your way through a flight of wines and a killer sample of sweet and savory small bites 

that orb of cucumber water was seriously weird, and the coolest pop of flavor I’ve felt in some time

and mmn, the wine :)

(…Hold on, I know this: peppery in its finish, yet light on the tip of the tongue… kind of funky smelling… a Malbec? no, alright… Cabernet Sauvignon? …okay, I give up, what is this? …ahhh, a Grenache! I never would have gotten that!)

and I never would have made it out of that room if Stephanie hadn’t been guiding me–I mean that literally, it was so disorienting to not see, I lost all sense of where the walls were / and before the wine tasting started, to sit there and hear conversations both distant and nearby go on around you, with no way to meet eyes and connect with those other people, I instantly felt invisible, a pretty scary feeling (and this was followed by feeling grateful that this was just temporary)

an interest tidbit I overheard: if you’re ever dining with someone who is blind, it’s helpful to explain while plating, “Your greens are at 3 o'clock, mashed potatoes at 6 o'clock, and filet at 9 o'clock,” so it’s easier to navigate the meal / what great advice

so a huge thanks to Perkins, their caterer Max Ultimate Food, head chef Neal Balkowitsch, and Stephanie for a very enlightening evening / I’ll leave you w/ Perkins’ moto: All we see is possibility 

Laura Dewey Bridgman

Laura Dewey Bridgman was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, on December 21, 1829, to hardworking New England farmers. At the age of 24 months, she was desperately ill with scarlet fever for many weeks. When the fever passed, Laura had lost her sight, hearing, sense of smell, and nearly all of her sense of taste.

Touch was the single sense left to her, and she tried to make sense of her world by exploring every object and surface she encountered. Because she loved to imitate what her mother did, Laura was quite helpful with household chores, even learning to sew and knit. She developed a rudimentary sign language, with gestures for food and other basic needs, and a name sign for each family member.

Communication between Laura and her family was very limited. Pushing and pulling told her that she was to go or to come. Approval was communicated by a gentle pat on the head, and disapproval by a pat on the back. As Laura grew older, she frequently had temper tantrums, and by the time she was seven she could be controlled only by being physically overpowered. Laura’s father was the only family member she would obey.

Perkins School for the Blind, the first in the United States, was founded in 1829 and opened its doors in 1832. Samuel Gridley Howe, the school’s first director, was delighted with his pupils’ progress, but after five years he was ready for new challenges. In that era, people who were deafblind were considered hopelessly unreachable. When Howe heard about Laura, he was eager to try educating her. He traveled to Hanover, New Hampshire, and easily convinced her busy family that Laura’s best chance lay in going to Perkins School for the Blind. She arrived at the school in October of 1837, eleven weeks before her eighth birthday.

No one had succeeded in teaching language to someone who was deafblind, and Howe was now faced with creating a method of education. Instead of expanding upon Laura’s natural sign language, he decided to teach her English. He gave her familiar objects, such as forks and keys, with name labels made of raised letters pasted upon them. When he gave her detached labels with the same words, she matched them with their objects. However, Howe could tell that “the only intellectual exercise was that of imitation and memory.”

Howe next cut up the labels so each letter was separate. He spelled the now-familiar words, showed them to Laura, then jumbled the letters. Laura was able to rearrange them so they once again spelled the words. According to Howe, it was at this point that Laura grasped the concept of language and communication.

From the moment she understood that objects have names, Laura eagerly demanded to be taught the name of everything she encountered. She learned the manual alphabet swiftly, which allowed her to communicate unencumbered by cut-out letters. During the next year of her education, her teachers focused on expanding her communication skills and vocabulary.

After Laura mastered language, her curriculum was much like that of the other pupils at Perkins. With a teacher constantly at her side to fingerspell to her, she attended classes and studied reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, history, grammar, algebra, geometry, physiology, philosophy, and history.

Samuel Gridley Howe published the account of Laura Bridgman’s education in the Perkins Annual Reports, making both teacher and student internationally famous. In 1842, British writer Charles Dickens visited Perkins and wrote of his encounter with Laura in his book, American Notes. Dickens described the twelve-year-old girl in sentimental terms, dwelling upon her innocence and childish beauty, and likened her to a prisoner liberated from a vault of isolation. This effusive praise increased her celebrity and popularity throughout the world.

Laura’s instruction at Perkins ended in 1850, when she was 20. After years of being with a constant teacher-companion, Laura was suddenly on her own day and night, with few people to talk to. It seemed best that Laura return to New Hampshire, where she would benefit from the intimacy and interaction of domestic life. In fact, her busy farming family had little time or patience for her. Her health began to deteriorate, and Howe realized that Laura should return to Perkins. He and Dorothea Dix, Laura’s friend and advocate, raised an endowment to ensure that she would have a permanent home at the school. Although she often spent summers with her family in New Hampshire, Laura lived at Perkins School for the Blind, her “Sunny Home,” for the rest of her life.

Laura’s adult life at Perkins was busy. She lived in one of the four cottages with the students, and did her share of the housework. As a teacher of needlework, she intimidated generations of students with her notorious intolerance of shoddy workmanship. Laura read a great deal in her free time, principally from the Bible. She sold her needlework pieces, delighting in having money to give gifts to her friends and contributions to the poor. She was an enthusiastic letter writer throughout her life, and sometimes traveled to visit friends and relations. For a Victorian woman of this time, Laura lived a comfortable life.

When she was 59, Laura Bridgman became ill. After several weeks, she died peacefully at Perkins on May 24, 1889.

Laura Bridgman’s life and education is a legacy that continues into the 21st century. In writing of her, Charles Dickens made the world understand that people who are deafblind can be educated. In 1886, Helen Keller’s parents read Dickens’s account and realized for the first time that there was hope for their daughter. They contacted Perkins School for the Blind, and Director Michael Anagnos sent Perkins graduate Anne Sullivan to be Helen’s teacher. Sullivan educated Helen using Samuel Gridley Howe’s methods for teaching Laura Bridgman.

Helen Keller was a groundbreaking advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and one of the foremost humanitarians of the twentieth century. Many of today’s advances in education, accessibility, and civil rights are the direct result of her tireless activism. Pioneer though she was, Helen Keller always acknowledged gratefully that she followed in the footsteps of the little New Hampshire farm girl, Laura Bridgman.

Rocking Boat, Playground Equipment, Overbrook School for the Blind, Philadelphia by Perkins School for the Blind Archives
Via Flickr:
Description: Girls playing on a rocking boat. A large, “U” shaped piece of playground equipment that is round on the bottom and rocks back and forth. Date: circa 1903 Format: lantern slide Digital Identifier: AG4_04_0095 Rights: Samuel P. Hayes Research Library, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA



:: Perkins School for the Blind ::

one of my best buddies, Steph is the Graphics + Events Coordinator for Perkins, and she kindly invited fellow food enthusiast, Ashley and I to their 5th annual Taste event / it was held on their leafy green, serenely New England campus in this building that boasted an impressive Gothic tower, made eerily beautiful by the evening fog

stepping into the main event, we sampled yummy passed h'orderves from Max catering–shrimp skewers; mozz + cherry tomatoes; a tiny triangle of grilled cheese sandwich

and then we stepped into the Taste event, where, blindfolded, we were guided across a large room until we reached a tasting table / …I lost all sense of where I was; voices around us became our walls; it was totally disorienting / …what a gift to be able to see, and how often have I taken that for granted

our guide directed us to reach across our plate to the left and right, sampling the following items: Ginger Fried Beet Skewer w/ Japanese Mayo, like a dense veggie chip; Taiwan-style Dumpling; super gooey and tasty Lemon Vanilla Toasted Meringue; and a Salted Caramel Cracklin’ Truffle that reminded me of a Klondike Crunch bar / we could identify flavors like salt and citrus immediately, yet struggled with the subtleties, like the Japanese mayo

and then we moved on to wines! / first a sweet Cranberry Blush, followed by a dry Chianti, and then a complex Malbec / it was difficult to guess what these were

…Perkins opened in 1829 as the nation’s first school for the blind, and it’s a worldwide organization today / I’d like to thank them for hosting a really enlightening event–for wisely knowing that we learn best through experience–and for offering such tasty nibbles as we confronted this new darkness

P.S. Steph, thank you for the invitation! :)

Female Students Working with Plasticine Maps by Perkins School for the Blind Archives
Via Flickr:
Description: Female students working with plasticine on maps at the Perkins Institution. Walls in this classroom are decorated with large tactile maps and a globe. Date: circa 1900 Format: black and white photograph Digital Identifier: AG145-12-0035 Rights: Samuel P. Hayes Research Library, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Like our friends at Radio Perkins!

Perkins School for the Blind is an amazing establishment that provides education to individuals around the world who are blind, deaf blind or who have visual impairments. Last year, with the help of our DJs from right here at the Birn, Perkins was able to start up their own internet radio station and we are proud to present their facebook page here on the Birn:Blog, and encourage you to CLICK HERE and press the like button to show your support! Their hard work definitely deserves some recognition so follow that link and tune in sometime!

Special thanks to Marissa Lelogeais, DJ of the Birn's Music: The Fruit of Life . Her hard work helped make Radio Perkins’ Facebook presence possible.

The Morning Talk, Kindergarten for the Blind by Perkins School for the Blind Archives
Via Flickr:
Description: Group portrait of students at the “Morning Talk” at the Kindergarten Department of the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. The students are seated in chairs arranged in a circle. One student sits in the center exploring a model horse and carriage. An instructor sits at the back center. From photograph album “Kindergarten Department of the Perkins Institution for the Blind Boston, MA.” Prepared for the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893. Date: circa 1893 Creator: A. H. Folsom Format: black and white photograph Digital Identifier: AG13_05_0003c Digitization: Digitized at the Boston Public Library and federally funded with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Rights: Samuel P. Hayes Research Library, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Bruins Play Goal Ball at Perkins School for the Blind

by Laura Paine

Copyright 2011 Watertown TAB & Press. Some rights reserved

WATERTOWN—Boston Bruins players Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder got a taste of what it’s like to rely on the rest of their senses when they “lost” their vision playing “goal ball” at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown.

On Feb. 7, the Bruins’ forwards teamed up against Perkins students to play goal ball, a team sport geared toward blind athletes in which players roll a bell-embedded ball into the opposing team’s goal. Players use the sound of the bell to determine where the ball is and use their bodies, often by lying on their sides on the floor, to prevent the ball from passing them.

Wheeler and Ryder each wore colored goggles that prevented them from seeing, which proved to be a more difficult task than either of them expected. At one point when Ryder went to retrieve the ball after it rolled past him, he peeked out from behind the goggles to find it. Wheeler said it was a challenge “for sure.”

“You find out how much you take your vision for granted when it is taken away from you,” he told the Watertown TAB & Press. “Once you put those goggles on, it was a different world. You don’t think about your hearing, maybe even touch and those different things as much as maybe you should. We rely on our vision so much that when it’s taken from you, it’s a shock to your system for sure.”

Wheeler and Ryder played the game as a part of the National Hockey League’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative.

Perkins Lower School Physical Education teacher Tracey Polimeno said it was very exciting to have Boston Bruins players at Perkins.

“It was even more important that Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler took the time to learn how to play goal ball, a game that really belongs to the students,” said Polimeno. “What good sports. The Bruins made it clear that our students truly matter to them.”

Wheeler said it was a great opportunity for him and Ryder to do something different.

“I don’t know if Mike has done anything like this either,” Ryder said. “It was a unique opportunity and to put yourself in these kids’ shoes for 10 minutes to see what they go through, it kind of gives you a different perspective and you appreciate what you have a lot more.”

The players answered students’ questions about everything from whether they take the elevator to their games or if they take the stairs to how many players make up a hockey team—Ryder and Blake said they take the stairs and, they think that including the goalie, there are 23 players on the team.

Students received goodie bags, autographs and hockey sticks from the players and 12 representatives from the Perkins School for the Blind will attend the Bruins/Sharks game on Feb. 5 at 1 p.m. as the special guests of Patrice Bergeron through his Patrice’s Pals program.



#perkinsschoolfortheblind #interactiveparkfortheblind (at Perkins School for the Blind)