The Unseen Minority: A Social History of Blindness in the United States

Historical Chronologies

Time Line of Developments in Low Vision*

1270 Marco Polo discovers elderly Chinese people using magnifying glasses for reading.
1784 Benjamin Franklin invents bifocal lenses.
1897 Charles Prentice invents the typoscope.
1907 First issue of Outlook for the Blind published (later renamed the New Outlook for the Blind and, still later, the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness).
1908 The London County Council institutes the Myope School, the world's first class for children with low vision.
1909 Edward Allen, director of the Perkins Institute, visits the Myope School in London.
1910 M. von Rodgin publishes the first paper on telescopic and microscopic spectacles.
1910 The Clear Type Publishing Company produces a series of 36-point books.
1913 In Roxbury, Massachusetts, Edward Allen starts the first U.S. class for children with low vision called the "defective eyesight class."
1913 Robert Irwin establishes a "conservation-of-vision" class at The Waverly School in Cleveland.
1914 Robert Irwin researches the use of large type and recommends 36-point clearface font.
1914 C. Usher's article on the inheritance of retinitis pigmentosa is published.
1915 The term sight saving is coined by the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness.
1916 Olin Burritt, president of the American Association of Instructors of the Blind, attacks the use of aprons and high collars to prevent children with low vision from using their eyes.
1922 P. Baunschwig reports on the use of prisms to aid persons with hemianopsia.
1924 Ophthalmologist Jules Stein and a colleague report on the use of telescopic spectacles at a meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA).
1925 The first specialized university program in the United States to prepare teachers of partially sighted students is instituted at the University of Cincinnati.
1930 Ophthalmologists report that use of vision does not further harm vision of people who are partially sighted.
1930 The first issue of the Sight Saving Review is published.
1934 Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Problems Relating to Partially Sighted Children, London, is issued.
1934 The AMA defines legal blindness.
1935 William Feinbloom's article, "Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Sub-normal Vision Correction," is published.
1938 William Feinbloom reports on 500 low vision cases in the American Journal of Optometry and Archives of the American Academy of Optometry .
1940 Manual on the Use of the Standard Classification of Causes of Blindness (edited by C. E. Kerby) is published by AFB and the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness.
1942 The American Optometric Association establishes the Department of Visual Adaptation and Rehabilitation.
1942 Alfred Kestenbaum, a physician, develops the microlense, a simple reading device.
1943 The first textbook on children with low vision, Education and Health of the Partially Sighted Child , by Winifred Hathaway, is published.
1947 The American Printing House for the Blind begins the regular publication of large-print books.
1948 M. B. Bender and H. L. Teuber's paper, "Spatial Organization in Visual Perception after Brain Injury" is published.
1953 The first low vision clinics open at the New York Lighthouse and Industrial Home for the Blind.
1954 The first exhibition of low vision aids is organized for the International Congress of Ophthalmologists.
1954 National Aid to the Visually Handicapped, a private organization organized solely to produce large-type textbooks for school-age children, is founded in San Francisco.
1955 Berthold Lowenfeld, an innovative educator of children who are blind and partially sighted, publishes on the psychological problems of children with low vision.
1956 Louise Sloan and A. Habel publish a method for rating and prescribing low vision aids.
1956 The Subnormal Vision Clinic (later called the Low Vision Center) is established at the Maryland Workshop for the Blind.
1957 The Industrial Home for the Blind reports on its optical aids service and defines the basic model for what has become the standard low vision service.
1957 Richard Hoover, an ophthalmologist, presents the functional definitions of blindness.
1957 E. C. Atkinson reports in the Lancet on what was probably the first newspaper for people with low vision.
1958 The American Optometric Association establishes the Department of Vision Care of the Aging.
1958 The American Academy of Optometry creates the Prentice Medal to recognize scientists who have significantly advanced knowledge in visual science.
1959 The American Optometric Association establishes the Committee on Aid to the Partially Sighted.
1959 Howard Lewis, an optometrist, reports on a survey of institutions serving the "partially blind."
1960 William Ludlam, an optometrist, reports on the contact lens telescope.
1961 Gerald Fonda evaluates telescopic spectacles for mobility.
1963 Natalie Barraga studies the increased visual behavior of children and develops a visual efficiency scale and sequential learning activities and materials for training children with low vision.
1965 S. C. Ashcroft, Carol Halliday, and Natalie Barraga replicate Barraga's original study on visual efficiency.
1965 Gerald Fonda's book, Management of the Patient with Subnormal Vision , is published.
1966 Conference on Aid to the Visually Limited is held in the United States.
1967 AFB sponsors the Geriatric Blindness Conference.
1967 Ruth Holmes replicates Barraga's (1963) study and reports on visual efficiency training of adolescents with low vision.
1969 Samuel Genensky, a mathematician with low vision, and his colleagues at Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California, report on their development of the CCTV.
1970 Natalie Barraga's Teacher's Guide for the Development of Visual Learning Abilities and Utilization of Low Vision, including the Visual Efficiency Scale, is published by the American Printing House for the Blind.
1970 Loyal Apple and Marianne May's paper on distance vision and perceptual training is published. Apple, though totally blind, advocates vision rehabilitation services for veterans with low vision and helps form the Low Vision Division of the American Association of Workers for the Blind.
1970 The U.S. Office of Education sponsors a Low Vision Conference.
1970 The National Accreditation Council of Agencies Serving the Visually Handicapped publishes standards for producing reading materials for blind and visually impaired persons.
1970 D. R. Korb's article on preparing visually impaired drivers is published.
1970 Eleanor E. Faye's book, The Low Vision Patient: Clinical Experience with Adults and Children , is published.
1971 Virginia Bishop's textbook, Teaching the Visually Limited Child , is published.
1972 The Low Vision Diplomate program, chaired by Edwin Mehr, is established by the American Academy of Optometry.
1972 Western Michigan University institutes the first required course on low vision as part of its program for preparing O&M personnel.
1972 The Clinical Low Vision Society begins to hold meetings, allowing ophthalmologists and optometrists to discuss topics of mutual interest.
1973 The U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration sponsors the conference on low vision titled "Services of the Decade of the 70's."
1973 Ophthalmologist Elliot Berson and his colleagues introduce the Pocketscope, a night-vision aid.
1973 Berthold Lowenfeld's book, The Visually Handicapped Child in School , is published.
1974 Audrey Smith demonstrates vision stimulation for mobility in her videotape, Consider Me Seeing.
1974 The European register of research on visual impairment, by John Gill, is published.
1975 The American Association of Workers for the Blind forms its Low Vision Division.
1975 The American Academy of Ophthalmology forms its Low Vision Society.
1975 The Veterans Administration sponsors the Low Vision Mobility Conference.
1975 Edwin Mehr and Alan Freid's book, Low Vision Care , is published.
1975 In Sweden, Krister Inde and Örjan Bäckman's book, Visual Training with Optical Aids , is published.
1975 Eleanor E. Faye and Clare Hood's book Low Vision , is published.
1976 Judith Holcomb and Gregory Goodrich's article demonstrates the ability to teach eccentric viewing to older people.
1976 Chris Johnson proposes the "two visual system" theory, which has had a profound effect on the field of low vision.
1976 Health and Safety Associates sponsors the National Conference on Telescopic Devices and Driving.
1976 Ian Bailey and Jan Lovie propose new design standards for visual acuity charts.
1976 The AMA and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators sponsor a conference on telescopic devices and driving.
1976 Large-print calculators become available.
1977 AFB conducts and publishes a survey of low vision clinics.
1977 The U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration sponsors the Sensory Deficits and Aids Workshop.
1977 The American Academy of Optometry establishes its Low Vision Section, chaired by Randall Jose.
1977 New Outlook for the Blind is renamed the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness .
1978 The Low Vision Conference is held at the University of Uppsala, Sweden.
1978 Geof Arden proposes contrast sensitivity testing in cases of visual disturbance.
1979 Michael Tobin and his colleagues publish the Look and Think book and teachers' handbook in England.
1979 The American Academy of Ophthalmology establishes the Low Vision Committee.
1980 The first Low Vision Ahead Conference is sponsored by the Association for the Blind, Melbourne, Australia.
1980 Robert "Dee" Quillman's Low Vision Training Manual is published.
1980 The National Society to Prevent Blindness publishes Vision Problems in the U.S .
1980 Ophthalmologist Michael Marmor and his colleagues develop the Wide Angle Mobility Light.
1981 The World Health Organization sponsors a meeting, The Use of Residual Vision by Visually Disabled Persons.
1981 The National Accreditation Council of Agencies Serving the Visually Handicapped establishes standards for low vision services.
1981 In a letter to the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine , DeWitt Stetten, a physician, reports his personal difficulty, after developing age-related macular degeneration, in finding low vision services even at the National Eye Institute. This letter led to several actions by ophthalmologists to inform patients of rehabilitation services.
1982 George Timberlake and his colleagues report on retinal localization of scotoma by scanning laser ophthalmoscopy.
1982 The Electrical Council and the Partially Sighted Society of London report on lighting and low vision.
1982 Olga Overbury and her colleagues report on the psychodynamics of low vision.
1982 Optometrists James Maron and Ian Bailey report on visual factors and mobility performance.
1982 Optometrist Jan Lovie-Kitchin and her colleagues in Australia publish Senile Macular Degeneration .
1982 The North American Conference on Visually Handicapped Infants and Preschool Children is held.
1983 The Rehabilitation Optometry Journal (later renamed the Journal of Vision Rehabilitation ) is founded by Randall Jose.
1983 Understanding Low Vision , edited by Randall Jose, is published.
1983 Anne Corn's theoretical model of visual functioning for persons with low vision is published.
1983 Vision Research: A National Plan: 1983–87 , published by the National Eye Institute, includes a panel on low vision.
1983 Optometrist Steven Whitaker and his colleagues develop the Pepper test of reading skills.
1983 The Pennsylvania College of Optometry offers a master's degree in low vision rehabilitation.
1984 Ian Bailey and Amanda Hall publish the University of California, Berkeley, preferential looking test for infants.
1984 Guidelines for the Production of Materials in Large Type is published by the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness.
1984 Laurence Gardner and Anne Corn's position paper, Low Vision: Topics of Concern, is adopted by the Division on Visual Handicaps of the Council for Exceptional Children.
1984 John Gill's first International Survey of Aids for the Visually Disabled is published.
1984 Allen Ginsberg's first widely available contrast sensitivity test is published.
1984 Microcomputers become widely used aids for people with low vision.
1984 Dennis Kelleher's personal view of driving with bioptics is published.
1984 David Reagan and his colleagues publish a low-contrast letter acuity chart.
1984 The Royal National Institute for the Blind publishes a demographic study of the visually disabled population in Great Britain.
1985 Corinne Kirchner and her colleagues' first resource guide, Data on Blindness and Visual Impairment in the U.S. , is published.
1985 Gordon Legge's first article in widely cited series of psychophysical studies on reading and visual impairment is published.
1986 The Asilomar International Low Vision Conference, sponsored by AFB, is held in California.
1986 The Low Vision Conference is held in Waterloo, Canada (University of Waterloo).
1986 Alfred Rosenbloom publishes Vision and Aging: General and Clinical Perspectives .
1986 Geraldine T. Scholl's Foundations of Education for Blind and Visually Handicapped Children and Youth is published.
1987 The Conference on Low Vision and Aging is held in Washington, D.C.
1988 The International Low Vision Conference, sponsored by AFB, is held in Beverly Hills, California.
1988 The first issue of Integracion , a journal on visual impairment and blindness, is published in Spain.
1989 David Loshin and R. D. Juday's article demonstrates spatial remapping.
1990 The conference on AIDS and Low Vision, sponsored by AFB, is held in San Francisco.
1990 The second Low Vision Ahead conference, sponsored by the Association for the Blind, is held in Melbourne, Australia.
1990 The first edition of Low Vision—The Reference , a computerized database of the low vision literature, edited by Gregory Goodrich and Randall Jose, is published.
1991 Laurence Gardner and Anne Corn's revised position paper, Low Vision: Topics of Concern, is ratified by the Division on Visual Handicaps, Council for Exceptional Children.
1991 Paul Freeman and Randall Jose publish The Art and Practice of Low Vision .
1992 The Americans with Disabilities Act is signed into law.
1992 The World Health Organization holds a Consultation on the Management of Low Vision in Children in Bangkok, Thailand.
1992 Division 7 (Low Vision) of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) publishes a Code of Ethics, Standards of Professional Behavior, and a Body of Knowledge in low vision.
1993 The International Low Vision Conference, sponsored by Visio and the University of Groningen, is held in Groningen, the Netherlands.
1993 The American Academy of Ophthalmology establishes the Shared Interest Group for Low Vision.
1994 The National Eye Institute's Low Vision and ITS Rehabilitation Panel notes that the term legal blindness is "an old-fashioned concept, rooted in the premise that vision much below normal is useless."
1994 Rodney Nowakowski publishes Primary Low Vision Care .
1995 Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology publishes criteria for subspecialty of Assisting in Low Vision.
1996 Journal of Videology begins publication.
1996 International Society of Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation holds its first business meeting.
1996 Vision 96, The International Low Vision Conference hosted by the Organization Nacional de Ciegos Españoles is held in Madrid, Spain.

* Source: Reprinted from G. L. Goodrich & V. M. Sowell, "Low Vision: A History in Progress," in A. L. Corn & A. J. Koenig, Eds., Foundations of Low Vision (New York: AFB Press, 1996), pp. 399–404.

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