Our Mission & History
We envision a world in which people are valued for who they are, not for what they see.
Our mission is to inspire confidence, build skills and empower people who are blind and visually impaired to become fully integrated, equally valued members of society by providing diverse services that produce opportunities and choices.
Our history goes back to 1905 when a group of churches in Providence began offering luncheons for Rhode Island residents who were blind. In 1925, the volunteer group officially incorporated as the Rhode Island Association for the Blind and opened the Outlook Shop on Eddy Street in Providence employing a small handful of blind men to cane chairs.
In March 1938 Helen Keller came to Providence to raise awareness about the needs of people who are blind, addressing 2,700 people at the former Metropolitan Theater. That same year the Association expanded its chair caning business by employing people who were blind to create greeting cards, baskets, jewelry, and rugs which were sold to the general public.
In 1945, the Rhode Island Association for the Blind purchased the historic Arcade building in downtown Providence for $365,000, saving it from immenent demolition. The Association occupied a store on the second floor of the building, renting the rest of the building's space as a way to raise operating income.
In 1959, Dr. Frank DiChiarra opened one of the first low vision clinics in the country at the Arcade building. The new service outfitted people with lighting and magnifying devices that helped them to maximize their limited vision.
In 1965, having outgrown the Arcade space, the Association moved to a much larger building on Broad Street in Providence. Along with an expansion into the jewelry assembly and sewing trades, the organization also expanded its low vision clinic and added an array of daily living classes.
In 1986, the Rhode Island Association for the Blind merged with the Rhode Island Radio Reading Service, forming INSIGHT. The merged agencies sold the Arcade building and the Broad Street building and purchased a new building at 43 Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick, which is our current location. Our agency currently features a fully equipped radio station, technology center, training apartment, classrooms, a chair caning shop, and a low vision products store.