Braille typewriters are an early important object in our charity's history as they functioned hand in hand with the charity's aim of teaching independence to veterans with severe vision impairment.
Having access to a Braille typewriter enabled veterans to enhance their skill set and increase their literacy skills which meant they had a greater chance of obtaining a job and becoming independent at the end of it.
One such veteran was Walter Newland; he enlisted as a Private in the 9th Sussex Regiment of the British Army in February 1916 at the age of just 23. Walter was sadly wounded at Zillebeke, one of the warfields in Flanders near Ypres in August 1917, only two days before his 25th birthday.
His injuries left him dark-blind, a term meaning he had no perception of form or light and he had to have one eye completely removed.
Following his operation, he was admitted to Blind Veterans UK formerly known as St. Dunstan's in Regent's Park where the war veterans were rehabilitated and learned to live with their blindness.
As part of his rehabilitation his was taught to read and type Braille on this very typewriter pictured below. Walter Newland excelled in his learning and passed his typewriting test in 1918. After leaving our charity he set up in business as a poultry-farmer in Sussex, a career he followed until his retirement in 1959.
This typewriter was given to him by Sir Arthur Pearson on passing his typewriting test and helped him to run his farm.
Happy New Year!
Throughout 2015 we will be celebrating our history through 100 objects that represent Blind Veterans UK and the work that we do.
The first object we are revealing is a very special letter dating from 1916, written by our founder Sir Arthur Pearson.
One of the main aims of our founder, Sir Arthur Pearson, was to build up the confidence of Service men returning blinded from the First World War. As a blind man himself, he wanted to offer the training and support to blinded veterans to ensure that they could lead fulfilling lives and support themselves and their families, with many having successful careers.
In 2003, Billy trained to take on the world record to be the Fastest Blind Man on a Motorbike! He broke the Guinness World Record by 24 mph and was recorded as the fastest blind man on a motorbike travelling at an incredible speed of 165 mph.
Our very first minute book, which documents the early years of our charity from 1915 to 1921.