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THE NEW YORK INSTITUTION FOR THE BLIND
This institution, located at Ninth avenue and Thirty-fourth street, New York city, was also inspected by the Board's inspector of State charitable institutions, his visits during the fiscal year being made in October, December, March and June.
Inquiry was made along the same lines as at the Batavia School, and the findings are as follows, the arrangement being the same as in the foregoing report:
1. The financial condition of the institution is good. It is under private management, reporting to the State Comptroller with regard to expenditures in behalf of the public pupils received. Its relations with the State are on a per capita contract basis of $250 per pupil. This sum is not sufficient, even when supplemented by the clothing moneys paid by the counties, to enable the institution to provide for the pupils without drawing upon its own invested funds.
As the State pays a per capita allowance of $280 for each State pupil in a school for the deaf, it is manifestly unjust to reimburse this institution on a lower scale. Your committee recommends that the Legislature remedy this condition, which has continued to the detriment of this famous school for some years. Although it has a large endowed fund, the desire of the management to remove the school to its more desirable suburban site at Washington Heights, should be assisted by keeping these private funds intact.
2. The educational and industrial training of the pupils continue along proper lines, with excellent results, as shown by the examinations. The specialized instruction of the blind is here developed to its highest efficiency, and is assisted by an equipment of devices and apparatus that could not be readily improved upon. Such instruments as the “stereograph,” for the duplication of literature in the “point-print” system (New York) and the “kleidograph” or typewriter for the blind person's use with point-print, are manufactured here under the direction of the inventor, the superintendent of the institution. They are of very general use in the instruction of the blind throughout the country.
It is proper to note that the work here in literary and musical branches is performed through the exclusive medium of the New York point-print alphabet and musical notation, and that the double system, as used at Batavia, does not obtain.
3. Concerning the government, discipline and general care of the pupils, observation has shown that the methods are humane and proper. The general health is good, the food satisfactory and clothing neat. There are limitations to the amount of open air exercise which the children can obtain in the heart of the city, and for their sake the removal of the institution to a less crowded locality is greatly to be desired.
The attendance at the opening of the new school year was 176, including 20 pupils from New Jersey. With dormitory accommodations for 225 pupils, the notable decrease in attendance during the last decade is very evident. On September 30, 1892, there were 207 pupils enrolled. In 1886, there were 216 pupils. A falling off is seen from year to year.
Prior to 1870, the buildings here were very much smaller, and although the Batavia School had been opened in 1868, the demand for admission of State pupils became so great that in 1870 large expenditures for additions were made from the investment funds.
The number of blind children of school age in the Greater New York territory has been gradually diminishing through modern surgical methods which operate to save large numbers of young children from blindness. The effect of this decrease is readily seen in the decreased attendance noted above. Having provided accommodations for such a number of pupils, there should be an adequate attendance to fully utilize the buildings and plant, and it is thought that enlargement of the territory from which pupils may be received will help to secure this.
Incidentally, the lowering of the average attendance is a further reason for an increase in the per capita compensation for State pupils.
4. Concerning the officers and employes of the institution, there are no changes to note, and the force is fully adequate to meet the scholastic and housekeeping requirements. An assistant to the steward and bookkeeper would be desirable. At the time of the last inspection this gentleman reported that the arduous nature of his work had prevented his having a vacation during the past summer. He has no office helpers.
5. The grounds and buildings have been generally well kept. It is difficult, in so busy a portion of New York, to avoid dust and dirt, and constant care is necessary to keep the property in good order. Improvements should be made chiefly in the boys' water closets, which several inspections have shown to be unsanitary and far from neat, and in the arrangement of pupils' lockers. There should also be receivers and sewers for the interior court yards to care for surface and roof drainage and waste water thrown out by the help, which now passes down these courts in open gutters, evaporating and leaving the yards damp and dirty.
During the past summer the institution has been equipped with a chemical refrigerating system, with a system of electric signals for general school and emergency use, and with an electric power device to operate the large pipe organ. All of which is respectfully submitted.
STEPIIEN SMITH, M. D.,
Chairman Committee on the Blind. Dated New York, October 25, 1901.