Perkins School for the Blind

Watertown, MA   |


The Perkins School for the Blind mission is to prepare children and young adults who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired, including those who have additional disabilities, with the education, confidence, and skills they need to realize their potential.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Mr. Dave Power

Main address

175 North Beacon Street

Watertown, MA 02472 USA

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Formerly known as

Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind

Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind

New England Institution for the Education of the Blind



NTEE code info

Specialized Education Institutions/Schools for Visually or Hearing Impaired, Learning Disabled (B28)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Day and Residential Programs

Our campus in Watertown, Massachusetts is where students ages 3 to 22 with blindness, low vision and deafblindness work with highly qualified experts to reach their greatest potential both in and out of the classroom. We customize learning to support the unique needs of every student, no matter where they are on their educational journey, and are ultimately focused on each student's successful transition to adulthood.

-Early Learning Center: Our family-centered program combines elements of play and early learning to provide students with the skills and socialization that will prepare them for educational experiences down the road.Our Preschool Program, for ages 3 to 4, and our Transitional Kindergarten, for ages 5 to 6, focus on communication, orientation and mobility, as well as other physical and developmental needs.

-Lower School: Designed for students ages 6 to 14, this program immerses students in classroom learning, combined with lessons in daily living skills, vocational activities, communication and travel, with a goal of greater awareness and independence.

-Secondary Program: The secondary program offers high school students ages 14 through 22 instruction in core academics, as well as compensatory skills such as assistive technology and braille. We focus on communication, self-advocacy and problem solving to increase each student's participation in the community as an involved, civic-minded individual.

-Deafblind Program: Committed to exploring the many ways that students who are deafblind can learn and connect with the world around them, our Deafblind Program incorporates a Total Communication environment—where any and every means of communication that works best for each student is encouraged. We offer comprehensive educational services to students ages 3 to 22 who are deafblind or deaf with additional disabilities.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments
Children and youth

Perkins’ Community Programs serve children with visual impairments in public schools and in communities across New England, both by providing direct support to students, as well as by providing vital information and assistance to parents and schools.

-Our Infant-Toddler Program offers educational services and family support that are vital to every child with visual impairments or deafblindness during the earliest years of development. Our work takes place on our campus, at home and in the community where we assess the special needs of each child and create individualized programs that address his or her challenges, and encourage his or her strengths.

-Educational Partnerships bring the knowledge and experience of Perkins staff to public schools, homes, training centers, and other community locations. Our experts work one-on-one with students ages 3 to 22 in the classroom, day care or home environment. We also support classroom teachers by preparing and adapting learning materials so students with vision loss can keep up with their peers and by providing professional evaluations of current services in school systems.

-Outreach Short Courses offer public school students who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to focus on areas that are not addressed in a typical school day, such as independent living, social skills, health and wellness, mastery of assistive technology, and career success. From resume writing to practical cooking skills, we offer a variety of courses that will challenge students to achieve their highest level of independence.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments
Children and youth

Perkins provides a variety of programs to help blind and visually impaired young adults ages 16-29 build a strong foundation for the next phase of their lives--whether that’s planning for a career, preparing for college, or strategizing how to apply to and interview for jobs, internships and volunteer positions. Our transition programs are designed in partnership with leading companies, nonprofits and universities in the Greater Boston area.

-Compass, a College Success @ Perkins program is a nine-month virtual program designed to proactively give college-bound high school students with visual impairments the critical academic and blindness skills they need to reach their full, college-ready potential. The program prepares students to transition into higher education with personalized counseling, assistive technology to make their lessons accessible, and lessons in how to self-advocate to ensure they can make the most of their college experiences.

-Career Launch @ Perkins prepares young adults with vision loss to work in professional fields. The program targets jobs involving direct interaction with customers in order to open doors for positions in growing sectors such as technology support, hospitality, and healthcare. Career Launch @ Perkins is designed to give its students the training and experience they need to build sustainable careers. Now accessible through both virtual and residential programs, it features intensive professional training and a full year of job placement and coaching support, as well as internship experience in the Boston area for residential participants.

-The Pre-Employment Program is an intensive one-week residential workshop that equips young adults with the skills necessary for workplace success. The program offers perspective from successful leading corporations and a chance to tour their worksites.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

The Perkins Library circulates more than 530,000 items to approximately 28,000 patrons in the Northeast annually. Readers with visual impairment, blindness or physical disability are able to read independently in a format most comfortable to them.

Perkins Library provides a variety of materials and services including:

-Talking books and players
-Braille books
-Large print books
-Digital audio materials
-Described videos
-Newsline, a service that provides news in accessible audio format
-Museum passes
-Research assistance
-Daily remote activities including audio-described movies, yoga, and trivia

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Specializing in reaching those who are blind, deafblind or blind with additional disabilities, Perkins International promotes access to meaningful educational and vocational opportunities in key regions around the world.

Perkins International advocates for strengthened public policies, distributes assistive devices and technology, and builds the expertise of local partners in countries across the globe. We work with schools, orphanages, daycare facilities, teacher training programs, government agencies and family advocacy groups to strengthen each region’s capacity to improve education access for children who are blind and have additional disabilities.

Through the nine-month Educational Leadership Program (ELP), educators from around the world receive advanced, comprehensive training in blindness education and leave ready to be leaders, advocates, and agents of sustainable change in their communities.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments
Children and youth

Perkins Access is achieving its mission of making the digital world more accessible for our students by delivering expert accessibility consulting to help organizations make their products and services accessible to the 1 in 5 children, adults and seniors around the world with a visual, auditory, cognitive or mobility disability. Today, major digital barriers exist for individuals with disabilities including successfully interacting with educational software and online courses; accessing virtual healthcare, health records and information; performing online banking and financial management; as well as engaging in retail, entertainment, and civic activities. Perkins Access is strategically targeting leading organizations across education, healthcare, finance and consumer services to help them create a culture of inclusion that leads to fully accessible digital experiences for millions of students, patients, employees and consumers with disabilities.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Where we work


New England Association of Schools and Colleges

National Association of Independent Schools

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of countries where children have access to a Perkins-trained teacher

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Average number of dollars received per donor

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA—the oldest school for the blind in the United State— is a national and international leader in providing education and services to infants, toddlers, children, and young adults who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired. Many of the individuals we serve have additional disabilities, including those which affect mobility and cognition. We aid students through academic and vocational education, training educators, and sharing our expertise with organizations that serve the blind community throughout the world.
However, much work remains to be done. In the United States, more than 60 percent of people who are blind are unemployed. Internationally, some 4.5 million children are not in school simply because they are blind. We believe this can and must change. We believe that education is a human right, and that every person who is blind should have the skills, opportunity, and confidence to realize their fullest potential. Our goal is to create the most inclusive world possible.

Preparing students for life beyond secondary school is at the forefront of everything we do. As a result, we customize the education program for each student according to his or her needs and abilities. We blend a specialized curriculum and assistive technology into students' living and learning habits every day—teaching them to compensate for their vision loss and function in a world designed for those with sight. Literacy is often thought of as being able to read and write. In the field of educating people who are visually impaired, literacy has been traditionally associated with mastering braille. However, today's technology advances have broadened the scope of literacy. Now, students must be able to use computers, tablets, smart phones, and the Internet. While braille will remain a vital tool, literacy in the digital age will continue to evolve—and inspire new challenges and fresh solutions. Perkins is committed to continuing to being a leader in such innovation—in everything from assistive technology to online education to creative approaches to teaching individuals with new types of vision loss, for example, children with Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI), an increasingly prevalent cause of blindness found in children who are born prematurely.

Our experience, expertise, and commitment to helping people who are visually impaired are demonstrated through the work of our five divisions.

1) Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA. Our base campus serves approximately 200 young people, both residential and day students. In addition, it operates as the headquarters for our Community Services Programs. These include teaching services providing independent-living courses for public school students; evaluations and assessments of children with vision issues; and training for professionals.

2) Perkins International. On a global scale, Perkins International helps people in 41 countries by partnering with local agencies and organizations to provide training, resources, and advocacy to improve the lives of the 4.5 million children who are without access to education due to blindness. In addition, our Educational Leadership Program (ELP) provides advanced training to teachers of the visually impaired and education professionals from developing countries. Participants come to Perkins for nine months of classroom instruction and hands-on learning, then return to become change agents in their home countries. At present, 320 educators, from 72 countries, have completed the Educational Leadership Program.

3) Perkins Solutions. Perkins Solutions offers assistive technology products and accessibility consulting services for businesses as well as non-profits who want to increase the independence, literacy, and employment of people with visual impairment and other disabilities. Perkins Solutions develops and distributes accessible technology in 170 countries.

4) Perkins eLearning. Perkins eLearning provides educators with professional development and graduate-level credits through online workshops. In addition, it creates webcasts and webinars about a variety of topics.

5) Perkins Library. Every year, the Perkins Library circulates more than 530,000 items in braille, audio, electronic, and large-print formats to approximately 28,000 patrons around the United States. All of these services are free of charge to individuals who quality as blind or visually impaired.

For almost 190 years, Perkins educators, therapists, and staff members have worked to give students the tools they require to become contributing, involved members of their communities. Thanks to their efforts and the generosity of many donors, Perkins School for the Blind impacts children and their families throughout the world. Since 1989, Perkins International has reached more than 500,000 children. During FY17, we supported 66,013 children and families in 41 countries through our international efforts. We also provided training and development courses to 10,402 teachers, service providers, and education professionals. And we reached 1.4 million parents, caregivers, and educators who used our online resources. During the next three years, we will be addressing three strategic initiatives: helping students transition from secondary school to adulthood; aiding underserved children internationally; and meeting the needs of our youngest learners.

In addition, Perkins will continue to remain a leader in helping children with Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI). An estimated 50 to 70 percent of school-age children with visual impairment in the United States have the condition, in which vision problems occur because the neural connection between the eye and the brain has been disrupted. Perkins is working to train more educators who can teach and diagnose these children.

When Perkins encounters real-world challenges, we bring a willingness to revisit, reimagine, and reinvent so that children with visual and other disabilities can lead better lives.


Perkins School for the Blind

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Perkins School for the Blind

Board of directors
as of 11/29/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Corinne Basler

Community Volunteer

Term: 2014 -

Frederic Clifford

Katherine Chapman Stemberg

Olly Shoes

Corinne Basler

Community Volunteer

Raymond Hepper

Randy Kinard

Fiduciary Trust

Elena Matlack

Community Volunteer

Stephanie Andrews

Vaithehi Muttulingam

Community Volunteer

RoAnn Costin

Wilderness Point Investments

Cynthia Stead

Anantha Chandrakasan

MIT School of Engineering

Katherine McGaugh

Brown Brothers Harriman

Jo Frances Meyer

Puddingstone Consulting

Stephen Pelletier


Julia Satti Cosentino

Nutter, McClennen & Fish, LLP

Meredith Rosenberg

Russell Reynolds Associates

Vijay Vishwanath

Bain & Company

Maureen Banks

Spaulding Rehabilitation Network

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 6/2/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


No data

Race & ethnicity

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Gender identity

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