Texas Commission for the Blind

By: John G. Johnson

Type: General Entry

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: August 13, 2020

The State Commission for the Blind was established in 1931 for rehabilitation of blind people by physical and vocational training. Initially the commission was composed of six members, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, with two members required to be graduates of Texas School for the Blind. In 1945 the legislature established the Vocational Rehabilitation Division, which insured federal participation and federal funds, in providing vocational guidance and counseling, physical restoration services, training, and placement in paid employment. As of 1993 the agency had primary responsibility to provide all services to visually handicapped persons, except welfare services and services for children provided by regularly established educational and state authorities. Commission services to adults are based upon programs designed to make them self-sufficient and independent members of the community. Services for children are aimed at prevention of blindness and parental counseling. For senior citizens services are designed to enable them to live and work independently. As the types of service and the number of clients have increased, the agency has grown considerably. In 1970 there were five major programs, 151 employees, and fifteen district offices. Over 400 employees were authorized in 1972 and over 600 in 1978, when they served 25,000 clients. The commission was expanded to nine members in 1979, with members appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate for six year overlapping terms. Two members are required to be legally blind. The name was changed to Texas Commission for the Blind in 1985. At that time the five major programs were in effect. Business Enterprises provided training to qualified blind persons to manage food service vending facilities. Children's Program, which emphasizes preventing blindness, restoring vision when possible, reducing dependency, and preparing children for vocational success as adults served 7,792 children in fiscal 1989. Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center, a twenty-four-hour residential training facility, offered evaluation, counseling, and training to severely disabled blind persons. These services are usually preparatory to other educational and vocational programs. Independent Living Rehabilitation provided services for those with disabilities too severe for employment, that they might be able to live and function independently. Vocational Rehabilitation Program served adults who are blind or have seriously impaired vision with individualized vocational rehabilitation training. The commission provided citizen involvement through the Consumer Advisory Council, the Medical Advisory Council, and the Optometric Advisory Council. Based on 1989 projections there are 198,000 Texans who are blind or with severely impaired vision; of these 10,700 are under age seventeen, 81,400 age eighteen to sixty-four, and 105,000 over age sixty-five. The commission had 550 employees in 1992. Appropriations were $30,007,323 in 1993. In 1991 the agency became one of eleven agencies under the oversight of the Health and Human Services Commission.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

John G. Johnson, “Texas Commission for the Blind,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-commission-for-the-blind.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995
August 13, 2020