Blind, Deaf and Dumb Institution


A Braille lesson, 1920 (AOT, PH30/1/2301)

The Blind, Deaf and Dumb Institution opened in North Hobart in 18981 after a decade of preparation by the Society for the Blind Deaf and Dumb. The Society's objectives were education, industrial training and advancement in life of their protégés.2 The Institution provided a centre for a school, factory and welfare section where these objectives could be met. The school, which opened in 19013 received significant help from the Braille Writers' Association, which was set up in 1897. It still operates from its original library, established in North Hobart in 1928.4 Later developments included a new factory (1959, occupational therapy and recreational facilities for adults, the Lord Fraser Home for the Aged, and the introduction of talking books.5

A review of the Society's operations by Arthur Young in 1986 recommended that services for the blind and deaf should be separated, with responsibility transferred to the Royal Guide Dogs for the Blind, and a new Tasmanian Deaf Society respectively. So the Institution's work ended in 1987, when its assets were gradually sold and its activities mainstreamed. Its centenary year heralded its demise. However, the Royal Tasmanian Society for the Blind and Deaf, which had managed the Institution, continued as a trustee organisation.6 The Society's buildings now form part of the Rydges Hotel complex.

Further reading: Annual Reports of the Blind, Deaf and Dumb Institution 19891984/5; Valour: official journal of the Royal Tasmanian Society for the Blind and Deaf, 196482; EJ Smith,'Time is the Builder: a history of the Royal Tasmanian Society for the Blind and Deaf 18871987', 1987. All available in the Tasmanian Library, State Library of Tasmania.

Joy Smith

Footnotes:
1. Annual Report for the Tasmanian Society for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb, 28 February 1899, p 4.
2. Constitution of the Tasmanian Society for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb, attached to the Annual Report, 1901.
3. Annual Report, 1901.
4. Mercury, 25 July 1928.
5. Institute for Blind the Deaf, Annual Report, 1960.
6. Letter from Dr Mike Smith, President, 26 March 1987 (in the possession of Joy Smith).