The History of The Bermuda Society for the Blind
In the late 1940’s, a seed was sown in London when Lady Hall was walking through Regents Park and was reminded, sadly, that even when peace comes, the horrible results of war go on. As Lady Hall empathized with the poor souls blinded during wartimes, realizing that many were now unable to witness the beauty, colour and sunlight of the world around them, her thoughts turned to her native Isle.
Lady Hall was asked by the Governor, Sir Alexander Hood, to form the Bermuda Society for the Blind and in January 1957 The Bermuda Society for the blind was founded, by Private Act, by Lady Gladys Hall, Mr. Russell Eve and Mr. Russell Bell.
The Bermuda Society for the Blind was originally located on Burnaby Street in a building that was not very suitable for blind persons with steep stairways and narrow halls. The Society moved to the Hamilton Hotel on the site that City Hall is now located, but as a result of the fire that destroyed the original hotel, was then forced to relocate back to Burnaby Street. This was the beginning of Beacon Club which was formed by Mrs. Jean Howes, Mr. Lancelot Hayward and Mr. Abuwi Rasool in 1954.
Society Members came to the Beacon Club and participated in the workshop on offer, weaving stools, trivets, baskets and even “mop” heads. Orders were placed by a wide array of customers from local hotels to the Queen of Bermuda, all of whom praised the quality and craftsmanship of the goods. There were many places in Bermuda, especially Front Street, where you could find these products for sale, and still today, many houses in Bermuda have an article made by members of Beacon Club.
In 1962 after a lengthy fund raising campaign, “Beacon House” was built at the corner of Cedar Avenue and Dundonald Street and was officially opened by Mr. Russell Bell becoming the new home for The Bermuda Society for the Blind.
After 50 years of operation the need for a workshop diminished as sheltered employment was no longer sought after and in 2009, in a public-private partnership with the National Office for Seniors and the Physically Challenged, the Bermuda Society for the Blind and the Department of Statistics conducted a survey of the blind and vision impaired population. The results and recommendations of this survey led the Bermuda Society for the Blind to develop an infrastructure to provide specialized professional vision rehabilitation services, and promote public awareness, education events, and social activities.
In 2018, the Bermuda Society for the Blind changed its name to Vision Bermuda to more accurately reflect our mission to serve anyone whose vision loss impacts their day-to-day activities, as well as their families, carers and also professionals with an interest in vision impairment.