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Appeal for the Royal Sydney Industrial Blind Institution, delivered at Sydney, Australia (July 11, 1948)


"Appeal for the Royal Sydney Industrial Blind Institution"

The Hon. (sic) Mr. Justice Maxwell, --- and Friends,

It thrills me again to speak to Sydney because it has lent a sympathetic ear to whatever I wished to say. This time I want to speak of a matter very near to my heart - the Royal Sydney Industrial Blind Institution.

As you all know by now, it was through Mr. Justice Maxwell and the Institution that Polly and I were enabled to visit Australia and experience its unfathomable enchantment and indescribably dear friendships among the seeing and the blind alike. Now I am going to try, with your help, to repay the generosity which has been lavished upon us so richly.

Having visited this institution, I picture it mentally as influenced by a warm desire to treat the blind as normal human beings, not as creatures set apart by affliction. It strives to preserve their rights to employment and creative workmanship, and to open to them new avenues of activity suited to their talents and temperaments. But the Institution must find practical ways and means to realise (sic) its dream of a happier world for the sightless. The fundamental difficulty lies in the misconceptions regarding blindness.

I beg you, my friends, to try to visualize your blind neighbour (sic). You have often seen him on the street, cautiously threading his way among this unseen fellows, his ears straining to hear sounds that will guide him through the invisible maze. You have glanced at him pityingly, thinking how different his feelings must be from your own. Earnestly I beseech you, have done with this cruel illusion and learn the truth.

Like you the blind man dreams of success, love and happiness. If you became blind tomorrow, your desires would be the same. The hardest thing that the man without sight has to bear is the longing to be strong, free and useful. This is one of the objectives which the Royal Sydney Industrial Blind Institution endeavours (sic) to attain in the lives of its blind workers - and it has other high projects which, if fulfilled, render it a beneficent friend - a torch-bearer in darkness to the blind not only of Sydney but of all Australia.

Do you not want to be part of that noble movement? I appeal to you who have light in your eyes, you who have influence, measure your gift by the preciousness of sight to you and your loved ones, and strengthen the hands of the Institution so that it may indeed be a mighty champion of the blind against the charity that is the bitterest part of their misfortune. Then will the Australian public be educated up to the capabilities of the blind as free, socially dignified citizens that it will no longer condone the separation of a group which lacks a sense or two, and rehabilitation will reach its fulness (sic) as a sanative element in the upbuilding of a new humanity.

Let us make Sydney the cadmus of the Blind of Australia.

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