C. Warren Bledsoe
Warren Bledsoe (1912-2005) was born at the Maryland School for the Blind where his father was serving as superintendent. He and his wife Anne had two daughters. He graduated from Princeton University, the Harvard course for teachers of the blind and did graduate work at Johns Hopkins. He taught at the Maryland School for the Blind until he was drafted in World War II.
In 1947 Warren Bledsoe was appointed by General Omar Bradley as the Coordinator of the Blinded Veterans Affairs and played an important role in setting up the program for blinded military personnel at Valley Forge. Because of his determination and development of a training curriculum, the long cane method of travel which was developed by Dr. Richard Hoover was implemented to prepare blinded veterans for return to civilian life. It is now used around the world to enable visually impaired people to travel independently. He was influential in the establishment of the blind Center at Hines VA Hospital in Illinois.
After World War II Warren Bledsoe joined the staff of the American Foundation for the Blind to serve as editor of the New Outlook. He then joined the staff of the Veteran’s Administration, where he was in charge of the Blind Rehabilitation Service for all veterans. In the late 1950’s he was reassigned from the VA to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, where he fought to preserve the position of Director of Blind Rehabilitation, including writing a letter to President Eisenhower with positive results. He retired as principal consultant on blindness to the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare, having served in the Division for the Blind from 1958 to 1966.
Warren Bledsoe’s many publications include a novel which was unrelated to blindness; frequent contributions to the Blindness Annual; "Credo Ascribed to Certain Masters of the Art of Teaching Blind People"; "Originators of Orientation and Mobility Training" in Foundations of Orientation and Mobility by Welsh and Blasch; "Social and Rehabilitation Services for the Blind" in Hardy & Cull’s Social and Rehabilitation Services for the Blind. He has been instrumental in preserving historical literature concerning work with blind and visually impaired persons.
Warren Bledsoe was awarded the Alfred Allen Award by AAWB in 1977 for his awareness and understanding of the problems of blindness, of its limitations and of what to do about it; Wings of Freedom Award in 1995 from the American Printing House for the Blind for his outstanding commitment to the advancement of rehabilitation programs for the blind. He has been referred to as a master at teaching blind persons how to manage their blindness, knowing when to help and when not to.
Photos: Warren Bledsoe editing the Craig Field Journal, 1943; Warren Bledsoe in U.S./Army Air Corps uniform being interviewed by another soldier, ca. 1943; Warren Bledsoe speaking at the 1990 APH Annual Meeting; Warren Bledsoe with inductees Richard Welsh (left) and Russell Williams; Louis Rives presents Alfred Allen Award to C. Warren Bledsoe, 1977. Photos from 1943 are from the C. Warren Bledsoe Orientation and Mobility Archives, APH Museum.