Dr. Robert J. Smithdas passed away on July 17, 2014 at the age of 89. He was an author, lecturer and poet who lost his vision and hearing as a result of cerebro-spinal meningitis at the age of four and a half. He began his formal schooling at Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind and later, after losing all of his hearing. he moved to Perkins School for the Blind, where he graduated in 1945. He received a bachelor of arts degree, cum laude, from St. John's University in 1950 and went on to New York University and achieved the distinction of being the first person with deafblindness ever to earn a master's degree. He is perhaps best known for his work in the field of vocational guidance and rehabilitation and worked to establish the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in Sands Point, New York, where he was a longtime employee.
He is the author of numerous publications, including an autobiography and several collections of poems. He earned many distinctions and awards throughout his life for his many achievements. For more information see: Dr. Robert J. Smithdas Passes or Perkins honors passing of graduate & deafblind icon.
See also a collection from the Perkins Archives on Flickr about his travels in Japan in 1967 with Dr. Edward J. Waterhouse.