Helen Keller School

Snack time at the Helen Keller School
Where are they?: 

East Jerusalem

What do they do?: 

Provide holistic education for visually impaired children.

Who benefits?: 

Up to 70 children between 3 and 13 years old receive an education, while older students are supported as they enter mainstream education.


The Helen Keller School (HKS) provides holistic education for visually impaired children.

The school has a long history. Before the First World War, Mary Lovell, a teacher and one-time missionary from Lincolnshire, established homes for the blind in Palestine, in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. In 1946, Embrace the Middle East (known then as the Bible Lands Missions Aid Society), established a link with the Lovell Society to support the Lovell Homes in Palestine. The two charities merged in the 1950s.

Dr Helen Keller, the celebrated American deaf-blind campaigner, visited the Homes in 1952 and two years later a one-room vocational training centre was established on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. In 1960, that centre was renamed the Helen Keller House, after Dr Keller. 

In 1964 the school found a new permanent home in Beit Hanina, then occupied by Jordan. In 1967, following the Six Day War and subsequent annexation of East Jerusalem, Beit Hanina came under Israeli occupation.

In September 2016, we passed the school into the care of the Fransicans who have been working amongst the marginalised in the Holy Land since the thirteenth century and have a near identical mission to our own with an unrivalled reputation in the field of education and caring for the vulnerable and disadvantaged. Read more about the transfer here.

Classes are small to allow teachers more time with each child. As well as all the usual curriculum subjects, the children learn Arabic Braille and skills that will help them to lead independent lives such as mobility training and daily living skills.

When students reach the age of 12, they are encouraged to join mainstream school. They continue to receive support from HKS staff, who work closely with the student’s new school.

HKS provides a unique counselling service for students’ families, helping them to accept and cope with their child’s disability.

Read an update on the school September 2016