The Blind Advantage provides insight into the challenges, possibilities, and practicalities of including students with disabilities—and into the mind and heart of an inspired and determined leader.
“You should get out of education.”
That was the advice first-year teacher Bill Henderson received when he discovered he was gradually losing his vision. Instead, Henderson persevered and became principal of the Patrick O’Hearn Elementary School in Boston, an ethnically and economically diverse school where about a third of the students have mild, moderate, or significant disabilities.
In The Blind Advantage, Henderson describes how the journey into blindness helped him develop key qualities—determination, vision, sensitivity, organization, collaboration, and humor—that made him a more effective principal. At the same time, he shows how the inclusionary policies and practices at the O’Hearn School (now renamed the William W. Henderson Inclusion Elementary School) elicited and developed these qualities in others.
An audio version of this book is available for purchase. This audio version was created in collaboration with the Perkins Braille & Talking Book Library.
In an age when the word ‘hero’ is overused, Bill Henderson clearly deserves the title. Long before most educators embraced the concept of inclusion, Bill built a school that became a model of equity and excellence. This book offers a rare glimpse of a highly effective school leader. — Thomas Hehir, professor of practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Bill Henderson, a pioneer in inclusive urban school leadership, provides an honest, practical, and joyful guide to what it takes to make inclusion work organizationally and instructionally. A must-read for educators and parents! — David P. Riley, executive director, Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative
Henderson provides an honest, heartfelt account of his experiences coping with vision loss and his leadership in the inclusive education movement. He offers practical advice and guidance for parents and educators. The Blind Advantage should be a required acquisition for public, academic, and special library collections. — Kim Charlson, library director, Braille & Talking Book Library, Perkins School for the Blind
Bill Henderson’s book artfully blends his personal narrative about gradually becoming blind, the counterintuitive effect this had on his work as a principal, and his school’s success in including children with severe special needs in regular classrooms. The heart of Bill’s book is a series of case studies that show how inclusion can be transformational for students—and for the adults who serve them. — Kim Marshall, former Boston Public School principal and editor of the Marshall Memo
Bill uses humor, honesty and sensitivity to narrate the story of the incredible journey of starting an inclusive elementary school. This book is a must read for educators seeking to provide inclusive educational opportunities for students of ALL abilities. — Tricia Lampron, principal, Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion Elementary School