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.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Leaders and Legends: William H. "Bill" English

William H. "Bill" English
Inducted 2005
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Bill English was born in 1929 in Chicago. He received his Bachelors from Cornell in Iowa and his Masters from Iowa State University. He is married to Janet and they have one daughter and two grandchildren.

Mr. English's entire career was devoted to the education of blind and visually impaired children and youth. From 1952-1954 he was at the Kentucky School for the Blind as a teacher and coach and, from 1954-1957, at the Ohio State School for the Blind as Principal, teacher and wrestling coach. He and his family then moved to Virginia where he served as Principal of the Virginia School for the Blind from 1957 until 1970. Sensing the need for a teacher preparation program within the state, he initiated preparations for and later helped to establish the vision program at the University of Virginia. In 1970 he moved to the Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped, where he was Superintendent until his retirement in 1994.

Bill English has been described as a visionary leader who expanded services to all students with vision impairment within the state of Wisconsin through innovative outreach programs and a model service delivery system. Children were identified by the outreach program, invited to the WSVH and given a comprehensive evaluation by the specialists on the staff to help parents look at options for their child. He also began a low vision screening of preschool visually impaired children in Wisconsin. Another program he initiated was a cooperative school program with the Janesville Public schools, K-12 for those students who would benefit from being mainstreamed during the school day.

Mr. English developed quite a reputation among his colleagues for his sage advice and counsel and for his ability to motivate others to be better teachers and leaders. His terrific sense of humor helped smooth over many tense and potentially volatile situations. He was known for his ability to convey his dreams to others and for his willingness to take risks for the benefit of the students he served.

Bill English served as President of the Association of Education of Visually Handicapped. His many honors include the Migel Medal presented by the American Foundation for the Blind in 1988 and the First Annual Distinguished Service Award the same year from the Wisconsin AER. Also in 1988 the Council of Schools for the Blind awarded him the Distinguished Service Award. In 1989 he received the first annual award for Distinguished Access to Services from the American Foundation for the Blind. In 1991 he was awarded the first Wings of Freedom presented by the American Printing House for the Blind and the same year, the William H. English Award, given by the Council of Schools for the Blind and named in his honor. In 1994 he received the Mary K. Bauman award given by AERBVI.

Bill English Bill English's Hall of Fame Plaque

Plaque sponsored by the Alumni Association of the Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped; Family and Friends

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.

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