Grim past of city’s blind is revealed

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A GLIMPSE into what the lives of blind people were like in Victorian and Edwardian Edinburgh is to be made public.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has formally transferred its surviving archive material to Lothian Health Services Archive at Edinburgh University library.

The collection paints an often grim picture of the harsh lives adults and children with sight loss endured, usually dependent on subsistence work or welfare relief that was conditional on religious 
conformity.

The charity began as The Edinburgh Society for Promoting Reading Amongst the Blind on Moon’s System in November 1857 – ‘Moon’ is a system similar to braille.

Ken Reid, chair of RNIB Scotland, said: “Charities and voluntary organisations that began decades ago can shed a fascinating and invaluable light in how society’s attitudes have progressed.

“That’s why it’s very important they preserve materials that document this change and give a voice to those who experienced it. I am glad that many things have improved for blind and partially sighted people.”