At age five, Robert B. Irwin lost his sight as a result of eye inflammation. After studying at the University of Washington and Harvard University, he supervised classes for children who are blind in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1923, Irwin took a position at American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). There, he developed a printing machine that reduced the bulk and cost of Braille books by 40% and used 33 ⅓ rpm long-playing records as talking books decades before the technology became popular. As Executive Director of AFB from 1929-1946, he helped pass many laws benefitting people who are blind, including the Wagner-O’Day Act.
Below is a timeline of NIB's history. Click on a specific event title to read more.