Atlas for The Blind 1837

   

The Atlas of the United States Printed for the Use of the Blind was published in 1837 for children at the New England Institute for the Education of the Blind in Boston. Without a drop of ink in the book, the text and maps in this extraordinary atlas were embossed heavy paper with letters, lines, and symbols. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first atlas produced for the blind to read without the assistance of a sighted person. Braille was invented by 1825, but was not widely used until later. It represented letters well, but could not represent shapes and cartographic features. Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876) was the founder and president of the New England Institute (later known as the Perkins Institute) and produced the atlas with the assistance of John C. Cray and Samuel P. Ruggles. Howe was the husband of Julia Ward Howe, the American abolitionist and author of the U.S. Civil War song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” He was a champion of people with disabilities and believed that blind youth could be taught geography through  maps created with his special paper embossing process. In his introduction to the atlas Howe notes that crude attempts had been made to create maps for the blind, but they used primitive methods of creating relief and required the assistance of a sighted person. He claimed that his new embossing method was superior in all respects.

via Atlas for The Blind 1837.

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