Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles

Coordinates: 48°50′51″N 2°18′56″E / 48.84750°N 2.31556°E / 48.84750; 2.31556
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Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles
boulevard des Invalides, 56



The French Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles (National Institute for Blind Youth), in Paris, was the first special school for blind students in the world, and served as a model for many subsequent schools for blind students.


Only at the end of the 18th century did Western societies begin to take an interest in the education of the blind; before that, they were considered incapable of being educated. In 1784, Valentin Haüy undertook to teach François Lesueur to read with the help of the Société philanthropique, a group of benefactors dedicated to various philanthropic projects, which enabled him to prove the efficiency of his method. In 1785, he founded, with his own funds, the Institution des jeunes aveugles ("Instituted for the blind youth"), in Coquillère street, Paris. In 1786 the school moved again, to a building on Notre-Dame-des-Victoires rented by the Société philantropique. On December 26, Haüy presented his methods and some of his pupils to Louis XVI, and was provided with royal funding for 120 pupils, whereupon the school's name was changed to the Institution Royale des Jeunes Aveugles, the "Royal Institute for Blind Youth".[1]

In 1791, after the French Revolution, it was renamed the Institution nationale des jeunes aveugles ("National Institute for the Blind Youth"), and moved to the Couvent des Célestins. From 1800 to 1815, the school was merged with the Quinze-Vingts Hospital, and renamed the Institut national des aveugles travailleurs ("National Institute of the Working Blind").

In 1816, the school moved into a former prison that was used during the French Revolution. Sébastien Guillié, who had established the first ophthalmological clinic in France, became its director, but he was forced to leave the position in 1821 due to the brutality he exerted against his pupils.[2] Although it was better than its previous location, the building was cold, poorly lit, and unsanitary: students bathed just once a month (there was only one bathroom) and the meals were of poor quality.[3] Despite this, it was still notable as a location where blind pupils could receive education in grammar, music, history, and science. Louis Braille, the inventor of the braille system, attended the school in 1819 and later taught there.

In 1843, the institute moved into a new, bigger building on Boulevard des Invalides, where it still resides today.

Organ class[edit]

The first organ class for blind students was established at the institute in 1826, and, by 1833, fourteen blind students held organist positions in the churches of Paris. The institute continued to produce a number of successful organists, such as André Marchal, Jean Langlais, and Gaston Litaize.[4]

Effect on other schools[edit]

Perkins School for the Blind, attended by the famed American deafblind woman Helen Keller, was founded after Samuel Gridley Howe visited the INJA.


  1. ^ "HAÜY, Valentin Essai sur l'éducation des aveugles, ... " The first printed book ..." Librairie Camille Sourget (in French). Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Weygand, Zina (2009). The Blind in French Society from the Middle Ages to the Century of Louis Braille. Stanford University Press.
  3. ^ "Arrival at the Institute for Blind Youth". Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  4. ^ Jean Langlais: The Man and his Music, Ann Labounsky 2000, pages 30–47

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

48°50′51″N 2°18′56″E / 48.84750°N 2.31556°E / 48.84750; 2.31556