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Archives - State Agencies - Vision Services - School for the Blind

[Authorized: Constitution, Article IX, Section 13; NDCC Section 25-06-01]

Created by the Constitution in 1889 (Article IX, Section 13) and established by the Legislative Assembly in 1895 (S. L. 1895, Ch. 24), the North Dakota School for the Blind opened in 1908 in Bathgate (Pembina County) North Dakota. A residential educational institution, the School for the Blind served the visually impaired and multiple handicapped-visually impaired children between the ages of three and twenty-two. Known originally as the North Dakota Blind Asylum, the School was governed by a five member Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor with consent of the Senate for staggered four-year terms. The Board of Trustees had responsibility for construction and administration of the School and appointment of a Superintendent. The Board elected a president, secretary, and treasurer. It was not necessary for the treasurer to be a member of the Board. 

In 1911, administration of the School for the Blind passed from the Board of Trustees to the newly created Board of Control (S. L. 1911, Ch. 62). In 1919 the Board of Administration assumed control of the School (S. L. 1919, Ch. 71).

A 1952 constitutional amendment authorized the Board of Administration to select a new site for the School and a site adjacent to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks was selected.  An initiated measure in 1959 (S. L. 1959, Ch. 428) provided funds for the new school which opened in September of 1961. The old facility in Bathgate was leased to Pembina County for local use.

In 1969 the administrative duties for the School were transferred to the Director of Institutions, who appointed the superintendent of the School to act as chief executive officer (S. L. 1969, Ch. 440). Criteria for admittance meant that a potential student had to be blind or partially blind, and unable to make suitable progress in the public schools. The superintendent, with the approval of the Director in Institutions, determined the age requirement for admission. A new student who was accepted into the school and who was a resident of the state was given an education at the expense of the state and was also entitled to free transportation to the school (S. L. 1979, Ch. 336).   

In 1989 authority for the School was transferred to the Superintendent of Public Instruction who appointed a superintendent. The law allowed that one person could be appointed to serve as superintendent of both the School for the Blind and also for the School for the Deaf (S. L. 1989, Ch. 339).

The School for the Blind had new objectives in 1997 when it became a state wide resource center offering services to residents who had impaired vision or who were blind. Instruction at the school included both general subjects and vision specific subjects. Coursework included instruction in Braille, Braille music, daily living skills, mobility, orientation, recreation, technology, vision specific subjects, and vocational training (S. L. 1997, Ch. 244).

Prior to 2001 legislative appropriations allowed services for non-residents if funding was available. However after the 2001 legislative session out of state residents attending the School for the Blind were required to pay in advance for services (S. L. 2001, Ch. 257). Also in 2001 the School for the Blind was renamed the North Dakota Vision Services-School for the Blind. It became the statewide service resource and referral center for education and training of all blind or visually impaired residents in the state. The school collected and distributed all available information on vision services and resources. It coordinated loans on adaptive devices, equipment and materials, and maintained outreach through the Instructional Resource Center which served the visually impaired throughout the state. 

In 2003 career technical training replaced vocational training and functioned as a statewide comprehensive resource working with related agencies to provide a full range of services to persons of all ages (S. L. 2003, Ch. 138).

The school became an authorized user of the National Instruction Materials Access Center providing a means to facilitate access of instructional materials in alternate formats for use by all visually impaired and for students with other print disabilities (S. L. 2009, Ch. 240).

1889       The creation of the North Dakota Blind Asylum by the state constitution. A five member Board managed the Asylum (Article IX, Section 13).

1895       Establishment of the North Dakota Blind Asylum by the State Legislature (S. L. 1895, Ch. 24).

1911       The Board of Trustees was abolished and control of the School was assumed by the Board of Control (S. L. 1911, Ch. 62).

1919       The Board of Administration was created to provide general supervision and administration for the School for the Blind as well as for all state penal, charitable, and educational institutions. The Board of Administration also provided for the general supervision of public schools (S. L. 1919, Ch. 71).

1952       A constitutional amendment authorized the Board of Administration to construct a School for the Blind to be located in Grand Forks.

1959       An initiated measure appropriated funds to build the new school (S. L. 1959, Ch. 428).

1961       The School for the Blind moved into the new quarters.

1969       The Director of Institutions assumed control of the School for the Blind (S. L. 1969, Ch. 440).  

1979       Visually impaired students who were unable to make suitable progress while attending a public school were admitted to the School for the Blind. The law also provided free transportation for the students (S. L. 1979, Ch. 336).

1987       An individualized educational program was set up for each student (S. L. 1987, Ch. 327).

1989       The Director of Institutions was replaced by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. One superintendent could be hired to serve both the School for the Blind as well as the School for the Deaf (S. L. 1989, Ch. 239).

1997       The objective for the School for the Blind was to serve as a statewide resource center for visually impaired residents. The School was required to train and teach specific courses (S. L. 1997, Ch. 244).

2001       The School for the Blind was renamed the North Dakota Vision Services-School for the Blind and it offered a full range of vision services for all ages (S. L. 2001, Ch. 257).

2003       Vocational training was replaced with career and technical education training (S. L. 2003, Ch. 138).

2009       The North Dakota Vision Services-School for the Blind served as a National Instructional Materials Center (S. L. 2009, Ch. 240).

2011       Legislation added a new section to the Century Code relating to library subscription fees and Braille fees to be deposited in the North Dakota Vision Services - School for the Blind operating fund  (S. L. 2011, Ch. 39).

2015       Monies deposited in the State Treasury as shown in the estimated income line item were for the North Dakota Vision Services-School for the Blind operating fund and collected from subscriptions and Braille fees (S. L. 2015, Ch. 47).

2017       The North Dakota Vision Services-School for the Blind fund was created as a special fund within the State Treasury and money received from services, appropriations, licenses, and contributions were deposited into this fund for buildings leases and for meals including independent services. The medical director works with the School to develop programming. Grants provide appropriations for higher education students who are blind or visually impaired (S. L. 2017, Ch.12).

30893 Minutes of the Board of Trustees
30894 Subject Files
30895 Administrative Staff Minutes
30896 Daily and Weekly Bulletins
30897 Property Inventories
30898 Audit Reports
30899 Teacher’s Fund for Retirement Reports
30900 Lesson Plans
30901 Photographs
30902 Scrapbooks
30903 Balance Ledger
30904 Record of Expenditures
30905 Appropriations Ledger

Gray, David P.  Guide to the North Dakota State Archives, 1985.
North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.
North Dakota Vision Services-School for the Blind Website.

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