Maryland School for the Blind News Release

The Maryland School For The Blind To Host Memorial Service For C. Warren Bledsoe

Longtime board member, pioneer in field had powerful international impact on services for the visually impaired

BALTIMORE, MD – A memorial service for C. Warren Bledsoe, who helped develop the long cane technique for blind people to use in getting around independently, will be held Friday, April 8, 2005, at 11 a.m. in the Jen. C. Russo Arts Center at The Maryland School for the Blind, 3501 Taylor Ave., Baltimore. Mr. Bledsoe died February 27, 2005 after a lengthy illness and three weeks after the death of Anne, his loving wife for 53 years. The Columbia resident was 92.

Born July 15, 1912 on the campus of The Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) where his father was the superintendent, Bledsoe dedicated his life to the education and rehabilitation of the blind and visually impaired. After graduating from Gilman Country School and Princeton University, he taught English and drama at MSB.

While serving in the Army Air Force during World War II, he was transferred to a special unit at Valley Forge Army Hospital in Pennsylvania to assist with the rehabilitation of service men and women who lost their vision in the conflict. There, in association with Dr. Richard E. Hoover, also a former MSB teacher, Bledsoe helped develop the long cane technique that continues to be used by blind people throughout the country and around the world.

As the war ended, Bledsoe was charged by Gen. Omar Bradley with transitioning the rehabilitation techniques developed in the Army program to the Veterans Administration. He helped develop the blind rehabilitation center at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Hines, Ill., where he also helped establish the model for current rehabilitation methods for blind people and was appointed Chief of Blind Rehabilitation Services of the V.A. In 1958, he transferred to the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, where he influenced the commitment of federal funding to establish and promote training programs for orientation and mobility specialists.

Before his retirement from HEW in 1976, Bledsoe returned to MSB as a member of its Board of Directors. He served many years as the Secretary of the Board and as chairman of several committees before becoming an emeritus member in 1993.

Through his powerful impact on the field of services to the visually impaired, Bledsoe received numerous awards including the Alfred Allen Award presented by the American Association of Workers for the Blind (AAWB) in 1977, the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired’s (AER) Lawrence E. Blaha Award in 1986 and the Ambrose M. Shotwell Award, AER’s highest award, in 1990. In addition, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) honored Bledsoe in 1995 with its Wings of Freedom Award, and in 2002 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends in the blindness field which is housed at APH in Louisville, Ky.

Throughout his career, Bledsoe encouraged the development and preservation of literature in the blindness field. While contributing many articles and book chapters to this effort himself, he worked to preserve complete sets of the field’s leading journals in schools and agencies around the country, resulting in the AAWB establishing the C. Warren Bledsoe Publications Award in 1977 for outstanding authors in the blindness field. More recently, MSB established the C. Warren Bledsoe Significant Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to the school.

Mr. Bledsoe is survived by his daughter Hester Anne Butterfield and her husband, Charles and their daughters Emily and Elizabeth and by his daughter Virginia Bledsoe, her husband Greg Staley and their son Steven.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to The Maryland School for the Blind, 3501 Taylor Ave., Baltimore, MD 21236.

Located in the northeast corner Baltimore, The Maryland School for the Blind is a private, nonprofit school dedicated to educating children and youth from infancy to age 21 who are blind, visually impaired and multiply disabled. Each year, the school serves more than 700 students throughout the state.

Go to C. Warren Bledsoe’s Hall of Fame Biography
Go to the Hall of Fame