Description of the New Testament Page
In 1833, Samuel Gridley Howe, the first director of the Perkins School for the Blind, published the first full, tactile version of the Christian scriptures. Although Howe knew of Louis Braille’s system, he and other US educators worried braille would isolate blind individuals. Wanting books blind and sighted individuals could share, Howe created a compressed—but legible—alphabetic font. This system of raised-letter printing—Boston Line Type—was the most successful system of its kind in the United States.
Transcription: “he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw aught. 24. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees walking. 25. After that, he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored.”
Benjamin Bowen, Author
Benjamin Bowen was one Perkins’s first pupils. Having lost his sight as an infant, Bowen arrived at Perkins in 1832 when he was thirteen. Perkins had opened its doors just one year earlier. Bowen left Perkins in 1838 and tried several professions, including teacher and church organist. Eventually, he found most success as an author. Bowen became one of a new generation of blind and low-vision authors. He published several books of autobiographical essays and lectures. In one essay, Bowen described the value of books in raised letters like this New Testament:
“The books which the blind can read themselves, and especially the Bible, furnish benefits that can never be calculated. They enable them to pass usefully many an hour which would else be spent in ennui and listlessness, or in repining at a fate to which they ought to be resigned.”