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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Milestones in AFB's History

Helen Keller as an older woman

1924-1968 Helen Keller worked for AFB for 44 years and changed the world's perception of what it means to be blind and deaf. As a result of her travels around America, state and private agencies for the blind were created and Americans with disabilities gained a voice.

Helen Keller and a young child sitting in front of a large cabinet radio

1928 AFB distributed radios to citizens who are blind, giving them firsthand access to breaking news. This was the Foundation's first direct service to blind individuals.

cover of the latest edition of the AFB Directory of Services

1929 AFB created a nationwide Directory of Services for people with vision loss. Now in its 27th edition and available online, the Directory remains an indispensable resource.

young girl listening to Talking Book with huge smile on her face

1932 AFB developed Talking Books and Talking Book machines. These long-playing records, played on special machines, opened the door of knowledge and transformed the lives of thousands of Americans across the country. AFB later successfully advocated for the distribution of talking books by the National Library Service for the Blind. AFB was instrumental in the passage of a law to establish the NLS.

Blind man making broom, WWII era

1938 AFB played the leading role in the passage of the Wagner O'Day Act, which radically improved employment opportunities for people with vision loss. This law required the federal purchase of blind-made products.

Helen Keller surrounded by smiling soldiers in VA hospital ward, WWII

1945 Following World War II, the Veterans Administration asked AFB to help set up its rehabilitation program for blinded soldiers. M. C. Migel, AFB's President and CEO gave what was at that time a large donation of $10,000 towards the establishment of the Blinded Veterans Association.

Close-up of young girl working on bead project

1966 AFB improved the education of blind and visually impaired children by helping to develop nationwide standards. AFB established the National Accreditation Council (NAC) to ensure uniform educational services and standardized teaching practices for children with visual impairments by developing educational standards and curricula that agencies and schools could follow nationwide.

Visually impaired students playing an accessible version of Monopoly, in a classroom setting

1975 AFB played a major role in the passage of legislation to ensure that children with vision loss are mainstreamed into America's public education system. Until this time over 90% of blind and visually impaired students were taught in residential schools. This legislation, known as IDEA, ultimately resulted in the creation of comprehensive curriculum guidelines for public school programs serving visually impaired children.

Early talking money identifier reads ten dollar bill

1983 AFB began marketing a talking device which identified U.S. paper currency.

Portrait of parents kissing daughter?s cheeks. Little girl is holding a white cane and has a prosthetic leg

1985 AFB established the first organization for parents of children with visual impairments. Today, we continue supporting parents through FamilyConnect.

Man with white cane in parking lot

1990 AFB was instrumental in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This landmark civil rights law gave Americans with disabilities more public access and greater protections against discrimination.

Close-up of child's hand reading brailled book

1990s AFB successfully rallied educators, parents, and professionals to keep braille in the school systems.

Handheld video magnifier being used to read newspaper

2002 AFB opens AFB TECH in Huntington, WV. AFB TECH works with companies to make medical devices, household appliances, office equipment and communications technology accessible to people with vision loss.

Lady with white cane boards bus

2002 AFB fought to ensure that people with vision loss can vote independently and privately. Great progress was made with the passage of the Help America Vote Act.

Student and teacher read tactile map in classroom

2004 AFB led the advocacy effort to ensure children with visual impairments receive their textbooks and classroom materials on time and in braille, large print, and electronic formats.

Older gentleman with cane walking with daughter in front of AFB Dallas

2006 AFB opened its Center on Vision Loss in Dallas, Texas to help provide information to older Americans with low vision. Its center piece is Esther's Place, a fully furnished, model home fitted with simple adaptations and products designed to make daily life more manageable for individuals with vision loss.

President Obama, member of Congress, and Stevie Wonder at the signing of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

2010 AFB led the way for passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. This landmark law requires television programs, smart phones, and other modern communications technologies to be accessible.

assortment of books

2011 AFB gives professionals in the vision loss field the tools they need to stay on top of cutting-edge research, adaptive technology, and best practices. AFB has, to date, published over 500 books and other titles about blindness and visual impairment.

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JVIB Special Issue on Critical Issues in Visual Impairment & BlindnessJVIB Special Issue on Critical Issues in Visual Impairment & Blindness

JVIB Special Issue on Critical Issues in Visual Impairment & Blindness

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