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Fall 2005 Table of Contents
Versión español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

A Celebration of Service to Texas Students

By Phil Hatlen, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Abstract: This article reviews the history of TSBVI and plans for its Sesquicentennial celebration.

Key Words:News & Views, Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Sesquicentennial celebration, blind, visual impairment, deafblind

The year 2006 marks the 150th anniversary of Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). The School plans to commemorate this achievement throughout the year with a host of activities for former staff, students, parents, professionals and the public. A kick-off program in January, a poetry contest, a track meet, local and visiting museums, a reunion, a drama performance and a tandem bike race will all be part of the year-long celebration. A commemorative 2006 calendar featuring photos from the past and braille wrist bracelets will be on sale. We invite all interested people to join us in these activities and help TSBVI celebrate its fascinating history and place in today's education of children.

Twenty years after Texas gained its independence from Mexico and five years before the Civil War, the Texas legislature created the Institute for the Blind on August 16, 1856, in a far out section of "Waterloo," as the capitol was known at the time. Families made the long trek by horseback and buggy, risking their lives, so that their blind children could attend the school. Not until twenty years after the Blind Asylum opened on the outskirts of town would the first state college, Texas A&M, be established, followed by the University of Texas seven years later.

The School has gone through a series of incarnations from 1856 to the present. As the Blind Asylum on San Gabriel Street near the capitol building, it admitted its first three students, who were expected to work at making brooms and other products while there. The location moved to the Arno Nowotny Building on what is now the UT Campus in 1857. The name was changed to The Blind Institute in 1905. The school moved to its current location, a 73 acre site on 45th Street, in 1916 and the name was changed again to The Texas School for the Blind, with "and Visually Impaired" added in 1989 to reflect the range of students being served. A separate institution, the School for Blind, Deaf & Orphans served black students, and was integrated into the larger schools for the blind or deaf in 1965. The year 1975 marked a turning point in the population served by Texas School for the Blind when the Legislature enacted H.B. 1673 adding statewide responsibilities to the School's enabling statutes and mission.

The School today is acknowledged as one of the country's leading schools in the education of blind and visually impaired children. The Curriculum Department publishes books that are used worldwide. The website is one of the most comprehensive in the world in providing information for parents and professionals and is visited by over two million people a year. The staff is highly qualified and experienced in providing for the education of its students in academics, vocational training, daily living skills, and recreation. The School provides a Comprehensive Program for students attending during the school year; a variety of Summer Programs for students who attend their local school districts during the school year; a Short-term Program for students who need short periods of intensive instruction in a specific area; a Post Secondary Program for graduated students who need remedial academics, employment, and adult living experience; and an Outreach Program that serves students, parents and professionals attending local districts throughout the state. TSBVI partners with Regional Education Service Centers, university teacher preparation programs, the Texas Education Agency and the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services to meet the needs of Texas' 7000+ blind and visually impaired students.

The proud history and modern accomplishments of Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired will be celebrated throughout 2006 in a series of events.

The calendar of events

January 27, 2006

January 27 - 29, 2006

May 2006

August 18 - 20, 2006

August and September

November 4, 2006

We hope that all of the many friends of TSBVI will attend some or all of these activities. We also would like to have your input about your experiences with or at TSBVI. Please go to http://www.tsbvi.edu/school/sesq/memories.htm to post them online, or send them to us at the School at 1100 W. 45th Street, Austin, Texas 78756.

This sesquicentennial celebration is being sponsored by All Blind Children of Texas (ABCTX), a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance the optimal physical, mental, emotional and social development of all Texas blind and visually impaired children, and who has a goal of increasing public awareness and appreciation of blind children.

Ongoing information about the Sesquicentennial Celebration can be found on the School's website at http://www.tsbvi.edu and the organization's website at http://www.abctx.org. If you would like to help sponsor the celebration, donations are appreciated and can be made through the websites or by calling Gloria Bennett at (512) 206-9234.

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010