From the Field — JVIB Extract
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Sir John Wall, former secretary general and honorary life member of the World Blind Union (WBU) and former chair of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), died in late 2008. Mr. Wall was born in 1930, in East Finchley, an area of North London in England. He attended a mainstream school until the age of 8, when he lost his sight completely due to glaucoma, and transferred to Chorleywood School for the Blind. After two years at Chorleywood, he moved to Worcester College for the Blind in 1940. Mr. Wall completed his secondary school studies two years early, at age 14, at the top of his class. Mr. Wall attended Balliol College, Oxford, and graduated in 1951 with a degree in jurisprudence. After graduation, he applied to over 400 companies and was invited to 53 interviews before he was offered a job as a clerk at a small law firm in Chelsea, London. He became a solicitor (lawyer) in 1954, and in 1956 he began working for the National Association of Local Government Officers (now known as Unison) as a legal adviser. Around this time, he attempted to become a judge, but was rejected because of the perceived difficulties his blindness would cause (leaving him unable to read court documents or study witnesses, for example). In 1974, he joined the law firm Middleton Lewis as a partner specializing in litigation, staying on when the firm merged with Lawrence Graham in 1977. He again applied to become a judge in 1990 and was this time successful, being appointed in 1991 as a deputy master of the High Court of England and Wales, the first blind person in modern times to occupy such a position. In 1993 he retired as a partner at Lawrence Graham. During Queen Elizabeth's 1994 birthday honors, he was appointed commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to blind people and was knighted during the Queen's birthday honors in 2000 for services to disabled people. He stepped down from his position as a judge in 2002.
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