Our History

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Here we chart our journey from our humble beginnings in 1877 right through to the present day with our recently opened annexe to Bradbury Lodge. We hope you find it of interest.


Foundation of “Oxfordshire Association for the Home Teaching of the Blind”. The group’s aims were to provide instruction in reading and writing, and to assist in obtaining work for blind people.


Name changed to “The Oxford Society for Visiting and Providing Books for the Blind”.  However, it appears that this name was soon shortened to “The Oxford Society for the Blind”. The books and magazines provided by the Society were in Braille and Moon.  The teacher’s salary was 30 shillings (£1.50) a month.


It was agreed for the next year “to provide for visiting, at their own homes, the blind throughout the county”.


“The Oxford Society for the Blind” amalgamated with “The Oxfordshire and Midland Home Teaching Society”. In that year a County Visitor was employed, but only from January to the end of August as: “it seemed to the Sub-Committee that this was as long a period as the subscriptions would allow them to employ his services”. A total of 122 people were helped during the year, with annual subscriptions totalling £76 – 0s -2d.


“The Oxford Society for the Blind” opened a shop at 4 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford, where blind people were employed to sell their own work and orders taken for piano-tuning and chair-caning.  The shop also contained a library of books in Braille. The Society’s register contained 145 names of blind people, of which 53 were in the city.


“The Oxford Society for the Blind” was registered under the Blind Persons’ Act (1920).


Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council accepted the assistance of Oxford Society for the Blind in providing teaching to blind people in the county.


Shops employing blind people to sell their own work were opened by the charity in Banbury and Bicester.


The name of the charity was changed to “Oxford (City and County) Society for the Blind”.


The Rt Hon. the 8th Countess of Macclesfield became vice-president.


Offices at 3 Enstone Road, Charlbury, were purchased.


Changes to local government boundaries led to an extension of the area covered by the charity to include Abingdon, Didcot and Wallingford.


In its centenary year, the charity’s name was changed to “Oxfordshire Association for the Blind” (OAB).  This was also the year in which OAB registered with the Charity Commission.


The Rt Hon. the 9th Countess of Macclesfield became patron, following the death of the 8th Countess.


OAB sold its Charlbury property and relocated to rented property at The White House, Rivermead Rehabilitation Hospital, in Oxford City.


A “Sight Advisory Service”, providing on the spot information, advice, counselling and emotional support for newly registered blind or partially sighted people, was established by OAB at Oxford Eye Hospital.


Moved temporarily to 9 Newtec Place, Magdalen Road, Oxford, following the sale of Rivermead Hospital by the NHS.


Purchased property in Gordon Woodward Way, Oxford, on the site of the old Rivermead hospital. The building was purchased thanks to a grant from the Bradbury Foundation.


Moved into Bradbury Lodge in August. The new centre was officially opened by The Rt Hon. the 9th Countess of Macclesfield.

Equipment and visual aid demonstration services were provided from a temporary building in the car park.

Over the course of the year more than 2,000 visually impaired people and their carers were supported by OAB in some way.  The charity also worked with 11 local self-help groups for visually impaired people.


In February, OAB teamed up with Banbury Museum to host BlindArt’s “Touching Art Touching You” exhibition.  The exhibition had more than 25,000 visitors, helping to promote the needs and abilities of local blind and partially sighted people.

OAB’s volunteer home visiting scheme awarded accreditation by the Mentoring and Befriending Association.

North Oxfordshire project helped to form two new societies for sight impaired people in the area.


Major fundraising campaign to build an annexe to our existing building. Our appeal champion was Colin Dexter, famous local author of the “Morse” mysteries and visually impaired himself.

OAB becomes registered as a company limited by guarantee.


The Campoli Centre opens to offer Oxfordshire’s largest, best-equipped and only specialist visual impairment drop-in resource centre.

Christmas Appeal 2017


A group of visually impaired children visit the natural history museum

   Rooooaaaarrr!!! A trip to the Natural History Museum

  Your kind donations make experiences like this possible!

To find out how you can donate to OAB’s Christmas appeal, please download the donation form below or go to our Justgiving page 

Christmas Appeal 2017




African Drumming

For visually impaired children and adults. These workshops will look at posture, hand placements, jamming, African and Caribbean history and reggae rhythms.


When: Tuesday 14th February 2017

Time:  Children’s workshop: 10am – 12pm (for ages 7+)

    Adult’s workshop: 1pm – 3pm

Where: Oxfordshire Association for the Blind, Bradbury Lodge, Gordon Woodward Way, Abingdon Road, Oxford, OX1 4XL

Cost: free but donations welcome

No musical experience needed. Drums provided.

Tutor: Natty Mark (founder of the African School: http://africanschool-africa.blogspot.com)

To book a place on the children’s workshop please contact Angela on 01865 725595 or email angela.howard@oxeyes.org.uk

To book a place on the adults workshop please contact Guy Lawfull on 07833053656 or email guylawfull@oxeyes.org.uk

Newsletter Page 2

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 Children and Young People’s update

Our Creepy Creatures session at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History the October half term was a roaring success (pictured). We got to explore the museum and touch things that no one else is allowed to, like the T-rex head used in Walking with Dinosaurs.

Image: Hanging out with the T-Rex in the museum, practising our roars.

Afterwards we made ingredients for our own spells for Halloween. We also got the chance to handle some huge cockroaches, who had very tickly feet. For some reason not everyone was keen on holding them!

We have another Explore & Make museum session in February half term, I’m sure we’ll tell you all about it next time.

Over the Christmas period 32 of us went on our traditional panto trip. We saw Jack and the Beanstalk at the Oxford Playhouse (oh yes we did!), with a Touch Tour beforehand. We booed and hissed with the best of them, and look forward to going back next year.

You may already have spotted Ellie at the JR hospital – she’ll regularly be at our Sight Desk on the Thursday mornings when the paediatric low vision clinic is running so that she can meet the families attending. Pop by to say hello!

After the success of last year’s Arts Award held at the Natural History Museum, we’re excited to announce that we will be taking part again this year, based at the Ashmolean. This accredited course is offered by the Arts Council and Trinity College London and involves two Saturday sessions (see below for details), which will give participants a chance to have a go at different forms of art, explore the Ashmolean and handle lots of museum objects. Each child will complete their own portfolio, which will be assessed as part of the project, and which they can then take home at the end. The course is open to visually impaired children aged between 6 and 11 . A parent/guardian must accompany each child.

Dates / times for the Arts Award course are as follows:

Saturday 24th February 2018 10am – 2pm
Saturday 3rd March 2018 10am – 2pm

There will be an additional Family Workshop Day open to everyone on either 17th or 24th March 2018 (tbc).

Lunch will be provided by the museum for both parents and children.

Where: Ashmolean, Beaumont St, Oxford, OX1 2PH

Booking contact: markupton@oxeyes.org.uk

For questions or suggestions relating to activities and support for children and young people, please contact: markupton@oxeyes.org.uk