Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Friday, January 15, 2010

Leaders and Legends: Richard Edwin Hoover

Richard Edwin Hoover
Inducted 2002
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Richard Hoover (1915-1986) was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He obtained his B.S. degree in 1936 from Penn State and an M.D. from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1950 with post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins Wilmer Institute. He married Lydia in 1959 and they had two sons.

In 1936 he was selected as a teacher of mathematics and physical education at the Maryland School for the Blind where he was known especially for his wrestling teams. He set up the first wrestling tournament among schools for the blind, a tradition that has continued for 40 years. Beginning in 1962 he offered ophthalmological services to students at the Maryland School for the Blind and served on the Board of Directors for the school beginning in 1973.

Richard Hoover has been referred to as the "Father of the Lightweight Long Cane Technique." In 1944 as an army sergeant, he was assigned to the center for the treatment of blinded soldiers Valley Forge Army Hospital. There he developed a successful cane technique, replacing the traditional short wooden cane with a lightweight long cane cut to a prescription length and using the technique of arcing the cane from side to side with the tip touching the ground in front of the trailing foot. He carefully chose additional staff to whom he taught these techniques and who in turn taught them to the blind soldiers. This program has been imitated by many schools and civilian agencies for the blind. University training programs were established beginning in 1960 and eventually certification standards and a code of ethics. In the next 25 years more than 2000 mobility instructors would graduate from 15 university training programs.

Following the war, Richard Hoover entered medical school and became a distinguished ophthalmologist. He was an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and was on the staff of other hospitals in Baltimore and Chief of Ophthalmology at Presbyterian Charity Hospital and Greater Baltimore Medical Center. In spite of a demanding medical practice, he served on many boards, provided consultations to a multitude of governmental, public, and private agencies serving the blind and visually impaired both in the United States and throughout the world. He was in the vanguard of his profession in encouraging the development of services for children and adults with low vision. He also was influential in the development of genetic counseling for families in conjunction with the National Eye Institute. He has been described as visionary, discerning, innovative and revolutionary in his approach to the mobility of the blind.

Richard Hoover Richard Hoover's Hall of Fame Plaque

Plaque sponsored by the family of Richard Hoover

About the Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired.

These significant professional colleagues of the recent and distant past are a fascinating cross-section of heroes and pioneers who not only shaped our rich history, philosophy, knowledge and skills, but also give us insights into current and future challenges. These giants shared their personal lives and showed us strategies to ensure that services for blind persons remain unique and specialized. Enjoy their lives and contributions and reflect upon your own list of heroes.

Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is a project of the entire field of blindness. It is curated by the American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Visit the virtual Hall of Fame for the inspiring stories of many more heroes of the field of blindness.

Check out this video, from the Washington State School for the Blind, if using a screen reader, press space or enter on the first button to play.

No comments:

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at


The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.

The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.

Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.

Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.

Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email to request permission.

Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.

Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.

Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.