C. Warren Bledsoe, 92

invention aided the blind

April 07, 2005

A memorial service for C. Warren Bledsoe, a co-inventor of the long-cane technique that gave the blind increased mobility and independence, will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Maryland School for the Blind, at 3501 Taylor Ave.

Mr. Bledsoe died Feb. 27 at his Columbia home at age 92.

He was born and raised on the campus of the School for the Blind, where his father was superintendent. After graduating from Gilman School and earning a bachelor's degree from Princeton University, he taught English and drama at the School for the Blind for several years.

While serving with the Army Air Forces during World War II, he was assigned to a unit at Valley Forge Army Hospital in Pennsylvania to work with men and women who had lost their vision.

There, in association with Dr. Richard E. Hoover, who had formerly taught at the Maryland School for the Blind, he developed the cane technique, which is still in use around the world and helps the blind to detect obstacles as well as stairs and changes in ground level.

After the war, Mr. Bledsoe served as chief of the Veterans Administration's Blind Rehabilitation Services until 1958. Then he joined the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, where he established and directed orientation and mobility training programs for the blind.

After his retirement in 1976, Mr. Bledsoe served on the board of the School for the Blind for many years.

His wife of 53 years, the former Anne Wunderle, died Feb. 6.

Surviving are two daughters, Hester A. Butterfield of Highland and Virginia Bledsoe of Silver Spring, and three grandchildren.

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