Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, 400 Southeast Sixth Avenue, Faribault, Minnesota

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Minnesota State Academy for the Blind

Minnesota State Academy for the Blind
Address: 400 Sixth Avenue SE
Faribault, Minnesota
Rice County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1858
Historic Function: Campus (educational)
Current Function: Campus (educational)

Faribault Rice County

Although the legislature established the Minnesota State Institute for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb in Faribault in 1858 (Minn. Stat. 1858 c23 s44), it was not until 1863 that accommodations were also made for the blind (Laws 1864 c71). The first blind students arrived in 1866 and, after a separate existence of two years, the school work was carried on in the same building with the deaf until 1874. Separate facilities for the blind were then erected about a mile away as a result of growing program incompatibility.

An "experimental school" to train the feeble-minded was added to the program in 1879 (Laws 1879 c31), and in 1887 the title was changed to the Minnesota Institute for Defectives (Laws 1887 c205).

The departments for the deaf and blind became the Minnesota School for the Deaf and Blind in 1902 (Ex. Sess. Laws 1902 c83) and it was classed with other educational institutes of the state. The title Minnesota School for the Blind was used from approximately 1907 until 1940, when the title Minnesota Braille and Sight-Saving School was adopted (Laws 1941 c332). The name was changed to Minnesota State Academy for the Blind in 1985 (Laws 1985 c 240).

The Faribault school was originally established and operated under the control of a board of directors. The blind were under the immediate charge of a principal and under the general supervision of the superintendent of the institute. In 1882 the internal administration of the departments was completely separated, each having its own superintendent. The State Board of Corrections and Charities acted as an overseeing board from 1883 to 1901, when it was replaced by the State Board of Control. The board of directors of the institute relinquished responsibility for financial matters to the Board of Control in 1901 also (Laws 1901 c122). In 1917 the board of directors was completely eliminated and the Board of Control took over its functions (Laws 1917 c343).

The Department of Social Security became the controlling authority in 1939 (Laws 1939 c431), to be replaced in 1953 by the Department of Public Welfare (Laws 1953 c593). Since 1977 the Minnesota Department of Education has been responsible for the control, management, and administration of the Braille and Sight-Saving School (Laws 1976 c271 s67). Sometime in the mid-1970s the internal administration was also changed so that, once again, the deaf school and the blind school shared a superintendent.

For most of its years of operation, the school has served visually handicapped children from the ages of 6 to 21. From 1870 to 1915, however, ages of students ranged from 5 to 26. Board, care, and tuition are furnished free of charge to blind children who are residents of Minnesota. In its earliest years, the school provided the students with musical, literary, and industrial training. Braille was introduced around 1920. In 1907, summer sessions for visually handicapped adults were established. These were held continuously until 1965, with the exception of 1962. The summer of 1973 marked the first program on the campus for visually handicapped children who attend public schools. In 1931 a tri-state library was established on the campus to serve visually handicapped readers from Minnesota and the Dakotas. Since the early 1970s, this library has served Minnesota only.

Courses of study are adapted to the students’ abilities. A program for multiply-impaired children was established in 1966, so many of the students have two or more handicapping conditions. In 1969 a program for children who have both severe hearing and severe vision problems was established. In addition to an academic curriculum that meets state education requirements, the school has music, industrial arts, home economics, and career development courses.


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