A school for the blind was first set up in Birmingham, on Ruston Street, in 1846 by Miss Elizabeth Bache Harrold and her friend Miss Mary Badger. As the numbers of pupils increased it was deemed necessary to move to a property on Ryland Street and then later to Broad Street. In 1848 the school was established as a public charity to be called ‘The Birmingham Institution for the Blind’. The following year two acres of land were leased from Lord Calthorpe, allowing the Institution to build a larger school on Carpenter Road, Edgbaston, which was officially opened in 1852. A lending library of Moon’s embossed books was established (Dr William Moon developed Moon type after losing his sight at the age of 21. He became a teacher of blind children and developed a touch reading scheme of raised curves, circles and lines). In 1880 Braille was introduced in the school. As in the Royal School for Deaf Children, manual work featured heavily within the curriculum, primarily carpentry and basket-making, but towards the end of the 1890s machine knitting, boot-making and typewriting were introduced.
Birmingham Archives & Heritage holds the archive for the Royal Institution for the Blind (MS 1700). Appointments to view material can be made via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 0121 303 2468.