About Town

World Services for the Blind – Celebrating 75 Years (1947-2022)

Beginning of a Dream 

   At eight years old, Roy Kumpe was declared legally blind. He moved from Ironton to attend Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock. He often recalled, “in those days it was more of a place to take care of the blind rather than a facility to prepare them to take care of themselves.” He quickly realized the segregation that comes with a disabililty.  “I remember people referred to our marching band as ‘those are the kids from the blind asylum.’”  But instead of bitterness, a fierce determination earned Roy a good education and visionary role in the world – including a law degree from Arkansas Law School as well as World Services for the Blind.

Philanthropist at Heart

   Civic leadership and community service became synonomous with Roy Kumpe’s reputation; Governor David Pryor designated February 5th Roy Kumpe Day. His commitment to philanthropy was unwavering: improving the lives of Arkansans was a mantra. Roy believed passionately that blindness is not a barrier.  Notoriety included acting mayor of Little Rock, lifelong service to the oldest Lions Club – the Little Rock Founders Lions Club – the 1976 Ambassador Award from the American Council of the Blind for his international work and first chairman of the Governor’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped and was a member of the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.  

A Dream Realized

   Roy graduated from Arkansas School for the Blind and became an ardent advocate for other blind individuals. He recognized a shared vision to live an independent + productive life, despite a disabililty. He secured necessary funding and integrated government agencies and federal buildings with visually impaired employees. While many of these employees were successful, others didn’t have the basic life skills required. Obstacles included mobility and transportation as well as personal hygiene and social techniques. Fate intervened with Roy’s plans to become a U.S. senator… Roy created Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind to provide critical resources that remove barriers. “We hope to encourage them over their setbacks and enable them to resume responsible and productive places in their respective communities,” this was Roy’s simple mission. 

Leaving a Legacy

   In 1989, Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind evolved into World Services for the Blind with same vision: to empower the visually impaired to live a meaningful existence. These principles, established in 1947, are steadfast. Clients gain life skills necessary to sustain independence as well as accredited vocational training to secure a career. All of this is made available at the World Services for the Blind campus with a clear objective: that clients will pursue a dream and move from the campus. This extraordinary + unique program attracts clients from 50 states and 60 countries – empowering more than 17,000 individuals. 

Expanding the Dream

   As World Services for the Blind continues to evolve to meet the needs of clients, permanent accommodations have become paramount. This includes blind and visually impaired adults with IDD (Intellectual & Developmental Diasabilities) and will be the first group home in the nation to provide these specialized programs and services. Following the mantra of Roy – improving the lives of Arkansans – World Services for the Blind has an ambitious plan to expand the dream. Remodeling and revitalization of the existing, original property includes a therapeutic group home with 24 permanent apartments and one respite care transitional apartment. Congruent with 75 years of service, the World Services for the Blind vision is clear. 

Become A Part Of The Vision

Inviting Arkansas

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