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.)


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Leaders and Legends: Richard Welsh

Richard Welsh
Inducted 2008
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Richard Welsh was born in 1944 in Pittsburgh, PA. He completed his undergraduate seminary studies with a degree in philosophy at St. Vincent College. In 1968 he received a master's degree in mobility from Western Michigan University and in 1973, a doctorate in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Pittsburgh. He has three adult children and five grandchildren. He remarried in 2001 to fellow professional, Mary Nelle McLennan.

Richard Welsh's experience in orientation and mobility began as an instructor from 1968 to 1970 at Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children and continued as an instructor at the mobility training programs, first at the University of Pittsburgh and then Cleveland State University from 1970 to 1978.

For the next twelve years Rick served as Superintendent of the Maryland School for the Blind. From 1990 until 2003 he was an administrator of the Pittsburgh Vision Services which was formed by consolidating the Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind and the Pittsburgh Blind Association. He retired in 2003 due to a life-threatening illness.

The remarkable and significant contributions to his chosen profession center around Rick's visionary leadership, his ability to see the big picture, to identify needs and to implement the necessary action plans. He was instrumental in establishing the O&M profession's Code of Ethics. Recognizing the lack of a comprehensive body of knowledge essential for the O&M profession, he with co-editor Bruce Blasch wrote the authoritative textbook Foundations of Orientation and Mobility, first published in 1980. He has also written many articles and chapters in texts on mobility and on the psycho-social aspects of rehabilitation of the visually impaired.

In 1984 he provided invaluable leadership in the consolidation of two prior, long-standing professional associations, AAWB and AEVH, to form the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). He served as its first elected president and, through his tireless efforts through multiple committees, gave the new organization a strong foundation. In addition to these various roles, he served as executive editor of RE:view, AER's journal.

Rick has also been president of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC.) APH and AFB have also benefited from his expertise as he served on their boards of trustees and various committees.

Among the many honors and awards Rick has received are the Migel medal from AFB in 2004, NCPABVI Leadership Award in 2003, AER's Ambrose Shotwell Award in 1996, AER's Lawrence Blaha Award in 1988 and the C. Warren Bledsoe Award from AAWB in 1981. Professional awards have been named in his honor, and he was recently named the 2008 Distinguished Alumni of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. Rick has been described as "larger than life," a visionary leader, very humble, approachable and a wise mentor and role model who quietly listened to others and made them feel valued.

Richard Welsh Richard Welsh's Hall of Fame Plaque

Plaque sponsored by the Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh

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.

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.