Lucas calls for one system for teaching blind children to read

extract from early thomas lucas letter

Today’s archive item is a copy of an old letter written by RLSB founder Thomas Lucas in 1837, discussing the best methods of teaching vision impaired people how to read.

Before founding RLSB, Thomas Lucas was already running a school in Bristol dedicated to teaching blind children.

Going through our archives we discovered a copy of a letter that he wrote in 1837 – a year before setting up his school in London – to the British and Foreign Bible Society.

In this letter he expressed his concern that there was no standardised way of teaching vision impaired young people to read or a standardised system of embossed lettering. He called on the BFBS to adopt one single, easy system.

Lucas used his own embossed system called the Lucas Type to teach people to read, and he described his method as such:

“The proper mode of teaching the Blind to read is, by instructing them to learn the letters backwards, and forwards, and be made to spell every word they read, or they acquire the Art of Reading whole Sentences by Memory and not be distinguishing the Characters, though their Fingers pass over them, and I think this plan will enable them to read wither way with ease, dropping the Finger from Line to Line, and prevent the danger that now presents itself so often, of missing the next line.

“I can only add that I am sure great Improvements may yet be made in the Art of Teaching the Blind to Read, and that as long as the Lord is pleased to strengthen me I will not cease to do all in my Power to forward the important object, not only in this City but in every place where my Master, whose I am and whom I serve, may be pleased to send me.”

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