The History of NAVH
Over 55 years ago Lorraine Marchi, a fourth generation San Franciscan and
mother of 4 children, began National Association for Visually Handicapped.
Her oldest son was born with albinism and she became aware that schools were
unable to supply adequate large print educational materials for children
like her son who did not require Braille. Out of that frustration and
concern NAVH was born.
In 1954 she convened a meeting of health officials, educators,
ophthalmologists, civic leaders and members of social organizations.
From that meeting emerged the Committee to Aid Visually Handicapped
Children. For the next 17 years Dr. Marchi volunteered her services to a
cause she described as her “life’s calling”.
NAVH was the first and remains one of the only national organizations
devoted solely to serving and advocating for the visually impaired. In its
55 year history NAVH has been the leader and pioneer in this cause.
Some of NAVH’s accomplishments include:
- Established first International Health Agency to offer services to the
“Hard of Seeing” worldwide.
- Created standards for large print books for publishers, and provided
large print school books throughout the United States to partially-sighted
- Established parental discussion groups to educate and assist parents
with issues in connection with raising partially-sighted children.
- Established summer programs for adolescents with low vision in both
San Francisco and New York.
- Provides educational booklets in English, Spanish, Russian and Chinese
for professionals and the general public on vision and common diseases of
- Hosts an annual Kambara Low Vision Symposium for Ophthalmology
Residents in the New York Metropolitan area, a program established in
- Hosts an annual Public Awareness Showcase and Counseling Center
addressing the needs and services of the partially seeing, an event open
to both professionals and the general public since 1973.
- Provides detailed information on “Know About Eyes” at presentations
before senior residences and centers; as well as eye care professionals
and those working with low vision individuals.
- NAVH is the official agency that has been representing the low vision
field at The American Academy of Ophthalmology annually since 1957 and
also exhibits at the American Academy of Optometry and The American
Association of Optometry.
- Conducts self-help support groups for low vision seniors in New York.