A History of the
Royal National Institute for Blind People

Founded in 1868, the History of the Royal National Institute for Blind People is a long and rich one which has helped hundreds of thousands of sight impaired people the world over. Originating in The United Kingdom, they first provided embossed reading material for the blind, which is also commonly known as braille. The founding fathers consisted of 4 men who were either blind or partially sighted created the foundation with the aim of helping others who suffered from vision issues.


In 1860 The Royal National Institute of Blind People further developed and adopted Braille as being the best method for the vision impaired and blind to be able to physically read and understand the world around them. In April 1871, they published their very first publication called "progress" which is still being published to this very day. 1889 saw the development of Arabic Braille helping those from south Asia and the Arabian speaking countries have access to a means of communication.

In 1893 they published the first dictionary of Braille contractions which helped to further solidify Braille as the main means of communication for the visually impaired community. The first official headquarters of The Royal National Institute of Blind People was established in 1902, and in 1906 the location moved from Cambridge Square to Portland Street in London.

In 1948 they received the royal charter, however, it was further 5 years later in 1953 the word Royal was included in the charities official name.

In 1918 the first home for children aged half a year to 6 years old opened and was known as "Sunshine Home for Blind Babies". It was here that care and education were provided for visually impaired children, helping them get a head start on the process of learning Braille and communication. 1935 saw the introduction of "talking books" service, which allowed books to be listened to instead of relying on Braille. This was especially important for young children who had not yet learned the art of Braille and help educate them on various ways of the world.

1995 saw the launch of their first website and propelled them into the modern world making all of their information, purposes and targets available to the whole world. People were no longer restricted by borders for information and it opened up many new avenues for generating revenue to help provide information and assistance for those who need it.

Today, Queen Elizabeth II is the official patron of The Royal National Institute of Blind People and follows in the footsteps of Queen Victoria who was the official patron in 1875. Without the RNIB, the educational and communication opportunities afforded to the visually impaired these days would not exist and the support they provide to over 2 million people in the UK alone would not be available.

 

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