Happy 100th Birthday

A small but active group of physiotherapists in the UK, which not many people know about, has just celebrated its centenary in style

Around 40 people attended a celebratory meal in October, where they heard the long, proud history of the Association of Visually Impaired Chartered Physiotherapists (AVICP) from esteemed past chairman Mike Cassidy. Our centenary lunch was a time to celebrate, reminisce and look to the future.

The Association of Blind Certificated Masseurs, the first CSP special interest group, was formed in 1919 in response to two overlapping concerns: firstly, the pressures of physiotherapy as a female-only profession to train more men, and secondly the number of men returning from war, blinded and needing a profession. At its height, around 1983, there were more than250 members, mainly completely blind, and a Braille Journal of Physiotherapy.

In 1953, the association was renamed the Association of Blind Chartered Physiotherapists (ABCP) and in 1999 it became the AVICP.

In 1976, Her Majesty the Queen opened the North London School of Physiotherapy, based at the Whittington Hospital in Archway, supported by the Royal National Institute for Blind People. It closed in 1995.

The AVICP now supports 53 members, students, working people and retired. We hold two clinical courses a year, designed specifically for our membership, provide peer support and have a very active link with the CSP DisAbility network.

Sadly, due to the pressures of the modern NHS and despite increased support and tighter equality legislation, the number of visually impaired students is minimal.

Despite dwindling numbers, the AVICP will still support any member with sight loss and still works hard to ensure that historic link between the profession and visually impaired people is not lost.

We seek out all physios with any sight loss, whether from birth or acquired. If you or anyone you know is working in the field and struggles with sight loss of any level, please feel free to contact our secretary Hilary Barber on h.barber12@icloud.com or visit our Facebook page. 

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