The History of Highland BlindCraft

The deprivation of sight has been shown to be no disqualification for a life of ordinary usefulness nor has it stood in the way of pre-eminent success in almost every department of human labour.

Highland BlindCraft’s roots lie in teaching the blind with the belief that if someone has the willingness to work, then paid employment should be an option for all people including those who suffer from a disability. When the factory was established, their employees were given the same rights and conditions as able-bodied people in the workplace and would not be further disadvantaged – and the factory is still run on the same principle today.

Established 24th March 1881, a home was set up on Ardconnel Street, Inverness which provided education and employment opportunities to blind and visually impaired individuals in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The home accommodated 18 blind scholars for an annual payment of £10 – including education.

Pupils who resided in the House were aged 8-16 years old, and besides ordinary education were taught industrial employment skills in preparation for working life. Boys were taught the art of basket weaving, while girls were taught sewing skills. It was not until the early 1900s that BlindCraft progressed into the bed making industry, and a new shop was built on Castle Street, Inverness.

1918 saw BlindCraft opened the doors to their current factory at 39 Ardconnel Street, Inverness and later added the shop. The factory has been extended and modernized over the years and is home to the design, manufacturing and production of high-quality products handmade by locally employed individuals.

Today Highland BlindCraft is still run with the same concept, although now we provide opportunities to individuals with a variety of disabilities. Even though BlindCraft is no longer a school we continue to provide development and training opportunities to all our team members should they wish to partake. Much of the training, such as I.T. Skills, Numeracy, and Literacy Training, is provided with the aim of developing knowledge and confidence in hope that one day the participant can progress into unsupported employment.

Since the factory’s beginning, we have developed our product and service range from basket weaving, to bed and mattress manufacturing. Continuing to develop our product range to include; headboards, divan bed bases, footstools, ottomans and much more, all handmade in our Inverness factory.