Schoolboy John Wilson is blinded by an explosion during a school chemistry lesson. In the next decade, he goes on to study law at Oxford University and gets a job at the National Institute for the Blind.
Sir John founds the British Empire Society for the Blind – the original name for Sightsavers. In its first year, the society forms national organisations for blind people in six countries, concentrating on education, rehabilitation and welfare.
A team from the RCSB climbs Mount Kilimanjaro, accompanied by seven blind men from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The aim is to encourage blind children to go to school by demonstrating what they can achieve, and marks Sightsavers’ first inclusive education project.
Children’s TV programme Blue Peter launches its ‘Sight Saver’ appeal, raising more than £2 million for eye care across Africa. The Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind subsequently adopts the title Sightsavers.
Read about Blue Peter’s work with Sightsavers
Sightsavers launches its first policy campaign, Put Us in the Picture, calling for global development to be inclusive of people with disabilities. Successes include a 20,000-signature petition being delivered to 10 Downing Street, and a photo exhibition being displayed in London, Dublin and New York.
In June 2018, Ghana becomes the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate trachoma, as validated by the World Health Organization. Ghana’s breakthrough achievement shows that eliminating the disease is possible, and paves the way for other countries to follow.
Read about trachoma elimination in Ghana
More than 21,000 supporters of Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign from 119 countries sign an open letter calling on the leaders of the G7 to meet their commitments on inclusive education for children with disabilities, particularly girls.
Watch the video message that supported the campaign