Happy 150th Birthday RNIB!

Happy birthday to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) which celebrates its 150th birthday this year.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People is a UK charity providing information, support and advice to almost two million people in the UK with sight loss. It is one of the UK’s leading sight loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people.

A lot has happened in the 150 years the charity has been campaigning for society, communities and individual to see differently about sight loss.

Below are just some of the changes that have happened over the years. And the RNIB have created a great video 150 years in 150 seconds which shows the work they have done and their achievements in supporting people in the UK who suffer sight loss. You can watch the video here 


The charity was founded on 16 October 1868 as the British and Foreign Society for Improving the Embossed Literature of the Blind. The name changed quite a few times over the years. The last name change in 2008 when they became the Royal National Institute of Blind People. But they are best known in the UK as the RNIB.


They adopt braille as the best format for blind people and published the UK’s first key to the braille alphabet and music notation. This was followed the next year by the publication of their braille magazine, Progress which is still being published to this day.

Her Majesty Queen Victoria became their first Patron. Queen Victoria took great interest in their work and on many occasions used blind scribes provided by the charity to take down dictation. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the current Patron.

The charity moved from being based in one of the founders, Dr. Armitage’s own home, to its first official Headquarters at 206 Great Portland Street.

Their first home for blind children, “Sunshine Home for Blind Babies” was opened in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire. These homes looked after blind children between 6 months and 6 years of age.

The introduction of Talking Books

They received their Royal Charter, although the name wouldn’t officially include “Royal” for five more years.

The RNIB website was launched.

They opened their Helpline. You can still call theirHelpline on 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk.

The RNIB launched their Membership Scheme

Happy birthday to the RNIB! Here’s to another 150 years of successful campaigning!