News From 1878

Vinton Eagle
February 20, 1878

A PROPOSITION TO UNITE THE
SCHOOLS FOR THE DEAF AND
DUMB, AND THE BLIND.

Cutting down expenses is one thing, and economy is quite another, yet there are persons who are unable to distinguish a difference in the two. They look upon any measure that will save an immediate outlay of money as the thing to be done, when the question of economy comes up; and it not unfrequently occurs that public efforts at saving immediate outlay result in even greater outlay than would have been necessary under a pre-existing policy. These remarks are suggested by a proposition submitted to the General Assembly last week, by Senator Kimball of Howard county, which is as follows:

Whereas, the State of Iowa has expended about $200,000 in erecting buildings at Vinton, Iowa, as a College for the Blind, which buildings are large and commodious and believed to be ample for the accommodation of at least 250 pupils, the present attendance being only 100 blind pupils; and,

Whereas, there are reported to be in attendance at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Council Bluffs, Iowa, about 102 pupils only; and.

Whereas, in other States these two classes of pupils have been taught and cared for in one institution with very satisfactory results; and.

Whereas, in view of the depleted condition of the State Treasury a necessity for a rigid economy in the management of our State Institutions exists; therefore.

Resolved, By the Senate, the House concurring, that the Committees on College for the Blind and Deaf and Dumb be requested to inquire into the expediency and desirableness of transferring the pupils attending the Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Council Bluffs to Vinton, Iowa, to be cared for during the next two years, and that they be authorized to report by bill or otherwise.

The object sought by Senator Kimball is, evidently, saving; and that seems to have been the sole object in his mind in offering the resolution. The real welfare of those most directly concerned, the blind and the deaf and dumb, could not, it seems to us, have entered into the calculation. In the first place the College for the Blind is not "ample for the accommodation of 250 pupils," even if the question of instruction were left entirely out of consideration. And if it were sufficiently large to accommodate the number of pupils named, the uniting of the two unfortunate classes in one building would almost surely prove worse than a failure. The disabilities are of such a nature as to preclude the possibility of making one class useful to the other. Imagine two persons meeting, one blind and the other deaf and dumb, than imagine them trying to come to an understanding on some paint! Can anything more incongruous be conceived? Such a sight, if it were not sad, would be exceedingly amusing.

We understand Mr. Kimball’s idea is that the Blind are taken through a course of study altogether too extensive. As he expressed himself when visiting the college not long since, they should be instructed only in the rudimentary branches, which, of course, would exclude music, a branch believed to be of special importance to the blind. Instruction in this department in the College at Vinton requires the use of fourteen rooms, while only seven rooms are needed for other school purposes.

Mr. Kimball’s resolution seems to be based on the idea that the State is doing too much for its wards, who are not able to do for themselves. If it is doing too much, let the mistake be pointed out. Surely the General Assembly will try no such experiment as is suggested by Mr. Kimball’s resolution, without first thoroughly investigating the subject.