Baltimore Headquarters
BISM Headquarters
Production Cutting Pic
Manufacturing and Production
Rehab Program Travel Training
Rehab Training Programs
history of
blind industries and services of maryland
Going Beyond Disabilities To Create Opportunity
Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) was established in 1908 as Maryland Workshop for the Blind by the General Assembly to provide vocational rehabilitation, continuous employment, and other resources to blind adults of Maryland. Facilities were added in 1955 and 1969 to serve the needs of the blind in Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore. In 1973, Maryland Workshop for the Blind became Blind Industries and Services of Maryland.
Starting in 1975, and continuing through the late 1970’s, our manufacturing evolved from mostly low skilled manual labor to higher level production work. The higher level production work required somewhat sophisticated equipment such as guillotine cutters, shrink wrapping tunnels, and ruling machines needed to produce writing tablets of all sizes. This equipment was modified as required to allow its operation by blind associates.
In the 1980’s, our manufacturing capabilities in Baltimore again expanded to allow for production of liquid chemical cleaning products. The packaging of these cleaning products started as a manual hand pouring operation producing one quart or gallon bottle at a time. It gradually evolved to its present state and now includes two automated filling lines capable of high speed filling and labeling of containers from two ounces to two gallons. This equipment is operated by our blind associates.
In 1986, BISM established the Rehabilitation Training Division. BISM maintains rehabilitation training facilities and staff capable of handling a wide range of programs and services for blind people of all ages. Our staff of qualified Rehabilitation professionals has grown from a small core of vocational rehabilitation teaching staff in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, to its present size of approximately 21 associates.
In the early 1990’s, BISM’s small sewing operations in Salisbury and Cumberland received a big boost with our first federal contract to produce military uniforms. By the end of the decade, we were firmly established in the textile (cutting and sewing) business with state of the art computer controlled cutting equipment and hundreds of sewing machines. The equipment was mostly operated by blind associates after the necessary modifications were made to make the equipment “blind friendly.”
In the late 1990’s, as our rehabilitation and manufacturing divisions were steadily growing, a new Base Supply Center division (BSC) was formed with a single location and five associates at Dover Air Force Base. The BSC division has grown to eight locations and a full service E-commerce division ( on various Federal installations and employs 23 blind associates.
In 2005, BISM built a state-of-the-art facility in Baltimore to serve as the main hub of operations for all manufacturing and rehabilitation programs and services. Additionally, we have expanded staff and facilities at our Western Maryland and Eastern Shore locations. BISM now provides training opportunities, rehabilitation programs and job opportunities throughout the state of Maryland. We are presently one of the largest providers of teaching and counseling services to older individuals who are blind in the United States.
In 2009, we entered into a partnership agreement with the Raleigh Lions Clinic for the Blind (NC) whereby BISM would manage the textile cutting division. This agreement prospered and expanded and in 2014 culminated in BISM’s complete takeover of all the manufacturing at that location. Subsequently, we moved our Raleigh manufacturing operations to a new building which is now known as the Raleigh Division of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland.