History

The Association began as a meeting of blind professionals or those teachers involved in education at a residential conference at Cheltenham, Victoria 1955. The Association came as a response to a visit overseas by Mercy Dickinson, a blind teacher at the Brisbane School for the Blind. Mercy completed an educational study tour overseas with the support of the Guild of Business and Professional Blind, to Condover Hall school in England, as well as other schools. On her return about 40 people gathered for five days to hear her report on her trip. Some notable 'oldtimers' who attended were John Adams, Neill West, Dorothy Hamilton, George Findlay, Hugh Jeffrey, Don Forbes, Paul Mercy and Leah Francis thus representing all Australian States.

The conference was held the following year in Sydney and it then formally emerged as the Australian Association of Teachers of the Blind with Paul Percy as inaugural President. In 1957 Paul attended an international conference and visited New Zealand spreading the idea for a regional grouping of teachers of the blind. In 1958 a conference in Melbourne was attended by Wal Christiansen of N.Z. and the 1960 conference in Brisbane marked the merging of Australian and New Zealand teachers.

The mid 1960's saw the establishment of the Board of Examiners providing course and examinations in a Certificate of Braille Competency and a Diploma in the Education of the Blind/Partially Sighted. With the adoption of specialised courses in many states of Australia and New Zealand the need for extra qualifications decreased and the Board was disbanded in 1982.

The Association has continued with some name changes, the most recent being to it's current name, SPEVI. It has also broadened its membership beyond educators to anyone directly involved with the education of persons with vision impairment. It has remained flexible and responsive to its membership.