History

Adapting, connecting, and thriving for over 100 years

Our work began in 1914, when Vision Loss Resources was founded as the Minneapolis Society for the Blind. As the need for vision loss support grew, the St. Paul Society for the Blind opened in 1955. In 1993, the two organizations merged to become Vision Loss Resources, and in 2005, DeafBlind Services Minnesota became part of our organization.

All along the way, the people we serve are at the center, learning to adapt, connect, and thrive. By practicing independent living skills and connecting with others going through similar experiences, our clients open doors to new opportunities rather than seeing their world narrowing. The people we serve don’t “suffer from” vision loss—they live with it an empowered way.

Vision Loss Resources: Historical Highlights

1910s – Grace Swift Strong, Fred Nash, and Thomas Schall found the Minneapolis Society for the Blind in 1914. They were inspired by a talk given by Helen Keller and hosted by the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. In Saint Paul, Mutual Aid Blind Association grows with support from the Council of Jewish Women.

Woman placing tags on baskets, 19251920s –  Minneapolis programs grow with support from the Community Chest (precursor to United Way) and the Amherst Wilder Foundation.

Minneapolis office on corner of Lyndale and Franklin, 19571940s –  Minneapolis Society for the Blind moves to what is now our current location on the corner of Lyndale and Franklin Avenues.

Woman playing shuffleboard

1950s –  Saint Paul Society for the Blind is founded in 1955.

 

1961 Bowling1960s –  Minneapolis Society for the Blind begins an outreach program with a grant from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Wellness.

1970s support group with 4 women1980s –  Saint Paul clients start a peer mentoring program, in which people with vision loss or blindness pair up to share their experiences and support each other. Minneapolis clients receive vision loss evaluation, as well as training on magnification devices. All of this non-profit work gains stability thanks to revenue from social enterprises in both Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Woman with white cane waiting at bus stop with instructor1990s –  Vision Loss Resources is created when the Saint Paul Society for the Blind and the Minneapolis Society for the Blind merge in 1993.

four students, one instructor standing and smiling at party in Rehabilitation center2000s –  DeafBlind Services Minnesota LLC joins Vision Loss Resources in 2005. Contract Production Services is the new name for the packaging and manufacturing division of Vision Loss Resources.

woman smiling during beep baseball game2014 –  In its 100th year, Vision Loss Resources strives to meet increasing demand for our services, particularly among older adults. Fundraising efforts begin, in order to sustain and grow programs. Clients initiate and publish a book, The Way We See It: A Fresh Look at Vision Loss (read it here).

group of clients on tour of Ordway theater2019 – Vision Loss Resources launches an outreach program to build mutually beneficial relationships with culturally-specific community leaders, eye care professionals, and people who work with older adults.

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When I lost my sight two years ago, I was scared to death. Vision Loss Resources opened possibilities I never knew existed. I now do so many things with people I’ve gotten to know and we have so much in common. I learned that I can continue on. Vision Loss Resources opened up life again.

Amy, a client