This three-part series will discuss the impact the Perkins Brailler has had on Braille literacy and the livelihoods it has created through repairing and reselling.
The history of the Perkins Brailler will be given in Part I, and the different types of Braillers Perkins produces and sells will be discussed in Part II. Also discussed will be the role of the new Smart Brailler (registered trademark) in advancing Braille literacy. We’ll conclude in Part III by describing the income earning potential worldwide for persons who are blind or vision impaired who work as repair specialists and resellers.
To describe the history of the Perkins Braille writer is to tell a story of commitment to Braille literacy, dogged determination to develop an innovative product, and significant financial investment.
In the early 20th century, Perkins manufactured Braillers similar to the Hall model first developed in 1892 by Doctor Hall, Superintendent of the Illinois School for the Blind. Drawbacks to those first machines were that they carried a high cost, were quite noisy, and broke easily if dropped. For those reasons, Dr. Farrell, who became Superintendent of Perkins in 1931, insisted that the school stop producing and selling those Braille writers. This administrator never gave up hope though, that someday, Perkins would design a superior device that would meet the needs of Braille users.
The person who agreed to undertake that monumental task was David Abraham, whom Perkins hired as a woodworking instructor. Though a skilled carpenter, Abraham had trouble finding work because of the Great Depression. The first prototype David Abraham produced in 1941 was remarkably similar to what we use today.
Though Perkins’ trustees were so delighted with his work that they agreed to subsidize the cost of 1,000 Braillers, they were unable to accomplish that until World War II ended. During the war, most manufacturing materials were committed to that effort.
Preparing for production after the war was also a daunting task for several reasons. The cramped quarters where the Brailler was being worked on had to be shut down and a better work space created on the Perkins campus in Watertown. Even when that was successfully completed, materials were still often scarce in the post-war era. Finally, Abraham’s attention to detail and perfectionism, which motivated him to experiment with several different models, along with the exacting specifications of directors and trustees, further lengthened the process.
The positive result of all of this was that the first Perkins Brailler produced in 1951 laid the foundation for what continues to be a milestone in Braille literacy.
Source: www.perkins.org (Like Perkins on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and visit them on YouTube.)