: This color image is a closeup of a paper sign taped to the door of a blue car. The sign reads: "Ohio State School for the Blind / 20 / Braille Rallye." A Braille Rallye is a competitive event in which a blind or visually impaired navigator is paired with a sighted driver. Driving directions and descriptions of landmarks are written in Braille, which the navigator reads and then imparts to the driver as they proceed along the course. Results of the competition are based on navigation and timekeeping.
In 1835 Dr. William Awl of Columbus and Dr. Daniel Drake of Cincinnati recommended to the Ohio General Assembly that a residential school for the blind be established. On April 3, 1837, Ohio governor Duncan McArthur signed the legislation that created the nation's first public school for the blind. The Ohio Institution for the Education of the Blind opened on July 3, 1837, with five students. It was the predecessor of the Ohio State School for the Blind. Any blind children residing in Ohio could attend the institution, which was located in downtown Columbus.
The school initially had a maximum capacity of sixty students, but upon moving to a new building in 1874, more than three hundred students could attend at one time. Between 1839 and 1901, 2,058 students enrolled at the Ohio Institution for the Education of the Blind, with 339 attending in 1901 alone.
In the early 1900s the Ohio Institution for the Education of the Blind became known as the Ohio State School for the Blind, and the Ohio Department of Education assumed control of the school. In 1953 the school moved ten miles north of its original location to its present home at 5220 North High Street. In 2005, 126 students enrolled in the Ohio State School for the Blind. Students as young as three and as old as twenty-one years of age attended the school. Students could receive their entire education, kindergarten through high school, at the institution. In addition, the Ohio State School for the Blind offered vocational training for its students.
William Awl (1799-1876) was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He studied medicine at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and, in 1825, established a practice in Lancaster, Ohio. As a physician, Awl sought to improve medical care for the imprisoned, the blind, and the mentally ill. In 1833, the Ohio legislature appointed Awl as the physician of the Ohio Penitentiary. Two years later Awl helped organize the Ohio Medical Association. This organization lobbied the Ohio legislature to establish a state hospital for the mentally ill and a school for the blind. In 1837, they succeeded in convincing the legislature to establish the Ohio Lunatic Asylum. Awl served as the director of this institution until 1850. He believed that mental health problems were illnesses that physicians could treat. In 1868 he became the physician for the Ohio Institution for the Blind.
Daniel Drake (1785-1852) was in New Jersey. His family was very poor and moved to Kentucky in 1788, hoping to improve its lot on the frontier. In 1798, Drake became a student of Dr. William Goforth, one of the first physicians in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1805 he received the first medical diploma granted west of the Appalachian Mountains.
Drake played a major role in establishing the Medical College of Ohio, founded in 1819. He also helped create the Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum for the State of Ohio in 1820. Drake contributed greatly to Ohio's development. His work helped provide Ohioans with capable doctors. He played a leading role in establishing several institutions of higher education. Drake also wrote numerous books on Ohio's animals, plants, and diseases.
View on Ohio Memory. Image ID
: AL06955 Subjects
: Ohio State School for the Blind
; Awl, William M. (William Maclay), 1799-1876
; Drake, Daniel, 1785-1852
; Ohio Institution for the Education of the Blind Places
: Columbus (Ohio)
; Franklin County (Ohio)