‘Who is Blind?’ described the changing legal definition of blindness and the words used to describe those with partial sight from the mid 18th century onwards.
It showcased equipment for the blind and the work of the various eyesight charities to cater for blind people, placing particular emphasis on the book’s publisher, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA) founded in 1934. Amongst other things you could see in the exhibition were a dog harness, an extract from David Blunkett’s biography, a braille machine, tactile dominoes and an antique print of the 19th century ‘Blind Asylum’ in Southwark. There was a lot packed in to a single display case and the Curator had a rewarding time describing the layout of the case to people with severe sight loss. A series of historic GDBA collecting boxes were displayed elsewhere in the museum. On a visit to this exhibition you never knew where a cute doggie might poke its head up next!
Photograph of the Blue Peter presenters
Generations of British school children have observed ‘puppy walking’ training for guide dogs via the popular tv programme ‘Blue Peter’. This autographed photograph shows the Blue Peter presenters from 1985, Michael Sundin, Simon Groom and Janet Ellis, crouched beside the Blue Peter pond at BBC Television Centre. The programme first followed the progress of a guide dog ('Honey') in 1965 and it became a regular feature on the programme. John Noakes and Peter Purves were both puppy walkers.
Simon Groom once, famously, said on air that 'One of Goldie's puppies is going to become a blind dog for the guides'. That puppy 'Prince' was born 16 May 1981 and trained alongside fellow presenter Peter Duncan. Goldie's second litter (born 3.February 1986) was Honey, Snowy, Bonzo, Amber, Fergie and Bruno all of whom became guide dogs whilst Bonnie joined the show (and gave birth herself to a litter that provided still more guide dogs).
Tactile Christmas Card
This jolly looking Christmas card from the USA was created as a tactile item, designed by and for those who cannot see, as well as to promote tactile art to the normally sighted. Beautifully handmade, it comprises a folded piece of red card with, on the front, a foil and paper bell, with string decoration, topped by green felt holly leaves and a tied red ribbon, and on the inside a passage of poetry in raised braille dots. An ink stamp is included identifying the poet as an 11-year old blind girl, Debbie Rae of Montclair New Jersey.