The CLEVELAND SIGHT CENTER OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE BLIND, formerly the Cleveland Society for the Blind, was founded in 1906 and has provided special services that enable people to cope with vision loss and/or total blindness. A pioneer in subcontracting with private industry and in community glaucoma programs, it has served as a model for agencies in other cities. The society grew out of an 1898 project at Goodrich House (see GOODRICH-GANNET NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER) that, among other concerns, urged instruction of blind children in CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Inspired by this project, LINDA EASTMAN created a small reading group for the blind in 1906 at the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY. Later that year, representatives from the Library, the VISITING NURSE ASSN., ASSOCIATED CHARITIES, and area SETTLEMENT HOUSES formally established the Cleveland Society for the Blind. Robert B. Irwin, later director of the American Foundation for the Blind, helped develop and supervise early public school Braille classes for the Cleveland Society.
The Society advocated independence for the blind — in 1907 a broom manufacturing shop was instituted, and in 1908 it sponsored two bills in the state legislature which established the Ohio Commission for the Blind. By 1910 the society was a leader in promoting selective placement of sight-impaired people in private industry. In 1927 the Society moved into the CAESAR A. GRASSELLI house on East 55th Street. By the 1950s various civic groups, such as the COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN, volunteered for the society. Employment services included centrally managed vending stands, retail sales (discontinued in 1966), and the marketing of products made by sight-impaired people. In 1966 the Society moved to its present (2005) location on Chester Avenue at East 101st Street. In 1967 it began to offer taping and transcription services, and in 1976 began a radio reading service. Its Storer Computer Access Center, opened in 1984, served as a national model for providing computer access, training and support to the visually impaired. In 1989 it was renamed the Cleveland Sight Center of the Cleveland Society for the Blind. Michael E. Grady served as executive director in 2005.